Author Topic: Ukraine  (Read 169810 times)



Crafty_Dog

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Former Sec Def Robert Gates 2.0
« Reply #1502 on: February 15, 2024, 05:36:57 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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Eussian Doomsday Space Weapon Steals Headlines of Avdeevka Collapse
« Reply #1503 on: February 16, 2024, 08:06:46 AM »

DougMacG

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1504 on: February 16, 2024, 10:39:55 AM »
Warning disclosure, this is the New Yorker, normally a contrary indicator of truth.  A few points of note:

1.  I especially like the second half of this quote:

“Most people who start a war think it will be over quickly. And, of course, nobody starts a war that they think they can’t win.

[Doug] There is your peace plan, deterrence.

2. I wonder how accurate this assessment is.  According to the reporting, the US under Biden has been VERY involved in the Ukraine war, besides providing arms, giving intelligence and military strategy, even though they reportedly aren't taking our strategy advice.

3.   “The longer a war continues, the more likely autocracies are to win.”

4. [What is the end game?]   “You have to create the space for Ukraine to claim victory under less-than-ideal conditions,” she said. “Because, if you say the only thing that is victory is the Russians go home entirely from Crimea and Donbas, Ukraine is in nato, and Moscow somehow disappears off the face of the earth—that’s an unrealistic goal. To me, Ukrainian victory is a situation in which Russia can’t do this again or at least is going to have a very hard time doing it again.”

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: The Uke case for more arms
« Reply #1505 on: February 16, 2024, 02:02:51 PM »
Western Weapons Are Ukraine’s Only Hope
Ukraine is outmanned. It needs U.S. assistance to make sure that it isn’t outgunned as well.
By Jillian Kay Melchior
Feb. 15, 2024 4:02 pm ET




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A soldier speaks with a recruit at a Ukrainian battalion’s recruiting center in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 10. PHOTO: ROMAN PILIPEY/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Kyiv, Ukraine

My interview with Petro Poroshenko this week began with a discussion of the importance of U.S. military support. It ended with the former Ukrainian president wiping away tears as he named friends who have died in the war.

“It’s all the time like your personal tragedy,” Mr. Poroshenko says. Among those who broke his heart: Oleg Barna, 56, a lawmaker, teacher, “a great father and husband” and an “enormously wise person. . . . I knew him for ages.” He insisted on participating in an assault operation and was “killed saving a friend.” Serhii Ikonnikov, “killed on his birthday, 25.” Glib Babich, 53, a musician and “one of the greatest poets I ever met,” dead. His list goes on.

Such losses take on a strategic significance as Western support for Ukraine wanes. Since Vladimir Putin launched his full invasion two years ago, Kyiv and its Western supporters have divided defensive responsibilities: Ukraine provides the people; the West supplies the weaponry.

Western weapons are a force equalizer that enable Ukraine, a nation of 39.7 million in 2022, to stand toe-to-toe with Russia, population 144.7 million. Western weapons free up Ukrainian manpower that would otherwise be devoted to defense production. This support “is a factor that can reduce Russia’s quantitative advantage,” says Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky. “We were in fact doing that as long as we had enough resources. Today, we are facing a certain shortage.”

The arms shortage is dire. “Without U.S. support, the situation is desperate,” says Rostyslav Pavlenko, a lawmaker from Ukraine’s European Solidarity party. “The Europeans are doing what they can, we are doing what we can, but given the mismatch in numbers . . .” He trails off. Mykola Bielieskov, a research fellow at the Kyiv-based National Institute for Strategic Studies, says, “You either fight with modern weapons or you fight with men. That’s it.”

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, a Ukrainian lawmaker from the European Solidarity party, says that “if we will fight Russia through a normal, symmetrical approach, they mobilize more, we mobilize more, they win. We can win only through an asymmetrical approach.” Anastasia Radina, a lawmaker from the ruling Servant of the People party, is even blunter: “We cannot compete with lives. We will run out. It’s really disturbing.”

Ukraine is looking for ways to increase its fighting force. In December the military suggested mobilizing as many as 500,000 more to fight. Lawmakers are considering legislation that would create a more comprehensive list of those eligible for military service and impose new consequences on those who fail to register, among other provisions. But tough choices accompany efforts to expand the military, and any political mistake could undermine national unity. Some soldiers have been fighting since day one. They’ve gained valuable experience but need rest.

Superior training is another force equalizer, but preparing new soldiers for battle requires money. If too many prime-age workers are away at war, the Ukrainian economy will struggle to produce tax revenue. “We need to remember that every service member costs the state significant amounts of money,” Mr. Podolyak says. Last year military, defense and security salaries, which aren’t covered by international donors, accounted for some 51% of Ukraine’s total defense-and-security budget of $48.3 billion.

Drafting an additional 400,000 to 500,000 soldiers would cost more than $8.4 billion, estimates Roksolana Pidlasa, a Servant of the People lawmaker who is head of the parliament’s budget committee. Russia is mobilizing about 1,000 new recruits a day, according to Serhii Kuzan, head of the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center, a Kyiv think tank. Moscow is also ramping up its domestic military manufacturing with support from its friends. Iran has been supplying Russia with Shahed drones, and North Korea is providing ammunition and ballistic missiles that Ukraine can shoot down only with dwindling Patriot or SAMP-T air-defense resources.

Without U.S. weapons, Ukraine is becoming outgunned and outmanned. “We can choose to allow this to happen, but this is only a problem because of our own self-limitation,” says Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute. “The industrial capacity of the collective West dwarfs that of Iran plus North Korea plus Russia.”

Ukrainians are frantically trying to explain their dilemma to the U.S. They warn that Mr. Putin’s ambitions don’t stop in Ukraine, and that the risks to Americans range from economic havoc to an attack on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally. China is watching as it eyes Taiwan, and small countries are paying attention as they assess whether the U.S. can be trusted as an ally. Russia is “totally an existential threat for us,” Ms. Klympush-Tsintsadze says, “but how come [Americans] don’t see it as a challenge or a real threat to them? . . . That is something that is puzzling to many Ukrainians.”

Several sources say they feel Ukraine has become a hostage to America’s internal politics. Maryan Zablotskyi, a Servant of the People lawmaker, returned Monday from Washington. “Once they meet you, they promise you the world,” he says of U.S. lawmakers. “Unfortunately I think the word ‘Ukraine’ has become too politicized.” Ukraine’s biggest problem, he adds, is “relying on the promises of U.S. politicians and not doing the work with the American public.”

Mr. Poroshenko says he remains optimistic Washington will come through. But as Ukraine waits for weapons, “the price for every single day, or the price for every single hour, is rising dramatically. . . . Those who will read your article cannot imagine what does it mean, every single week, to be at the funeral of your friends.”

Ms. Melchior is a London-based member of the Journal editorial board.




ccp

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Fox: Obama and Biden opposing views on Ukraine
« Reply #1509 on: February 20, 2024, 11:37:46 PM »
Assuming the sources of this article are true:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/obama-balked-bidens-assertion-russia-221127214.html

FWIW I am still not sure who was right.

If Obama had done more about Crimea would Putin have advanced into Ukraine.
Jury is out, and I don't think anyone but Putin will ever know.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1510 on: February 21, 2024, 03:01:24 AM »
Interesting.

Body-by-Guinness

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Zelensky's Leadership Days Numbered?
« Reply #1511 on: February 21, 2024, 05:54:56 AM »
A less than optomistic view of what's in store for Ukraine and Zelensky:

REGIME CHANGE IS COMING ...TO KIEV
Zelensky May Soon Be Forced Out Thanks to Avdiivka

STEPHEN BRYEN
FEB 19, 2024
Washington has fondly hoped that it could bring about regime change in Russia.  Now it seems even more likely that there will be regime change, but not in Russia --in Kiev.

The catalyst for regime change in Kiev is the bloody and now ended battle over Avdiivka.


Avdiivka is very close to Donetsk city, the capital area of the Donbas region.  Donetsk is about halfway between Mariupol on the Sea of Azov and Luhansk in the north.  Both Donetsk and Luhansk are regions (oblasts) in eastern Ukraine with mostly Russian-speaking populations.  Both Donetsk and Luhansk, along with Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, were annexed by the Russians in September 2022.


Russian soldiers hold annexation documents ready for signature, September 30, 2022 Annexations included Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts
The recent battle over Avdiivka has gone on for four months, but since January the Russians began wearing down the Ukrainian defenders of the city.  The Russian operation included attacks from the north, some of it focused on a huge Coke-making plant; and from the South in multiple thrusts on the city’s flanks.  By the end of the first week of February the Russian armed forces had cut the city into two, and were steadily advancing while pounding the city with artillery and FAB bombs. These are high explosive bombs of different sizes (FAB-500, FAB-1500) where the number is the bomb size in kilograms.


Avdiivka coke plant

Avdiivka was highly fortified and a difficult target for the Russian army.  The Russians focused on flank attacks that eventually squeezed off resupply of weapons and food and made rotation of forces difficult. By the last week of the battle the roads in and out of the city were under Russian fire control.

Zelensky staked his reputation on Avdiivka and wanted it held at all costs.  He fired his overall commander Valerii Zaluzhny, who saw Avdiivka as a lost cause.  Zaluzhny wanted to pull Ukrainian forces back from the existing line of contact and move them into defensible fortifications that could protect Kiev and other important cities.


Zelensky takes a selfie at Avdiivka on December 29, 2023. This area was captured by Russian troops in mid-February, 2024
Enter Syrsky, who had been ground commander under Zaluzhny and was now put in charge of all Ukrainian military forces.  Syrsky is the same guy whose tactics led to the collapse of Bakhmut and very heavy casualties, earning that city the name of "meat grinder."

Syrsky immediately called up three or four brigades to save Avdiivka from collapse.  But his planned rescue operation almost immediately got into serious trouble.

Some of Syrsky's brigades were being assembled and organized in a small town around 15 kilometers from Avdiivka, called Selydove.  The Russians discovered the Ukrainian army operations in Selydove and attacked with Iskander missiles and cluster weapons. According to Russian sources on various blogs (Telegram, X, for example), the Russian attack all but wiped out an entire brigade with heavy Ukrainian casualties.


A destroyed building in Selydove. Was it a hospital or a barracks, or both?

Ukraine's propaganda mill went into high gear, alleging the Russian attack was aimed at a hospital's maternity ward in Selydov.  But the reality was that Ukraine lost around 1,000 to 1,500 soldiers. Most western news sources parroted the Ukrainian line.


Russian airstrikes hit a hospital according to the region’s governor
Zelensky was on his way to the Munich Security Conference where he got a standing ovation. Before he left Kiev he ordered Syrsky to stop the Russians from taking Avdiivka.


Zelensky speaks at Munich Security Conference
Syrsky committed the 3rd Brigade to the fight for the city.  The 3rd Separate Assault Brigade which, in reality is the reformed Azov Brigade.  The Azov brigade is the backbone of Zelensky's ultra nationalist support in Ukraine. If any organization in Ukraine fits Putin's description of Ukrainian Nazis, the 3rd Brigade is the premier example.  Zelensky's political power depends on the Ukrainian military, and in particular the ultra-nationalists.


‘Azov’ far-right activists shout slogans during the march. Thousands of Ukrainian servicemen and volunteers took part in the March of patriots marking the Volunteer Day honouring soldiers who joined the Ukrainian Army during a military conflict in eastern Ukraine. (Photo by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket )

The 3rd Brigade did not perform as advertised.  When its units got into Avdiivka, coming in from the north, they found the situation dire. By that time there were around 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers in the northern parts of the city, mostly holed up in the Coke Plant.  Another 3,500 were in the center of the city verging on the southern town’s districts and an old abandoned airfield.

The 3rd Brigade disobeyed orders and ran out of the town, countermanding Syrsky and Zelensky's explicit orders.  Above all, Zelensky did not want to get embarrassed while he was at the Munich conference exactly while he was running around trying to get more ammunition for "the cause."  Some from the 3rd Brigade surrendered to the Russians.


Ukrainian troops surrendering
This is what triggered Syrsky to signal a retreat and abandon Avdiivka. That retreat was a significant blow to Zelensky's prestige and, apparently, there were angry phone calls from Munich to Syrsky.  But Syrsky had little choice, other than to openly surrender. Instead he announced a "new" strategy, precisely what Zaluzhny had previously recommended.


Syrsky interview by German TV outlet ZDF a few days before he ordered Avdiivka abandoned
The loss of Avdiivka leaves Zelensky in a bad situation.  He has all but lost his most ardent supporters in the Army, has humiliated his former commander Zaluzhny and replaced him with Syrsky who has a reputation as a loser.  He has lost face with the Europeans, and probably with the United States, although it is hard to tell for sure.

Zelensky counters by saying Ukraine will get Avdiivka back “absolutely.”

Washington does not want a deal with the Russians.  All its focus has been on handing Russia multiple defeats, squeezing the Russians dry, and replacing its leader, Putin. Biden's "team" also can't stomach the idea that the Ukrainians might make a deal with Russia and undermine "the policy."

Most of the central elements of Washington's policy have failed.  Excessive sanctions did not break the Russian economy but succeeded in driving the Russians in a wholly new direction, embracing China and India and BRICS. US technology did not turn the tide of war in Ukraine’s favor. Not talking to the Russians helped solidify the Russian view that Washington and NATO were the enemy, intensifying their already stressed view that they had been lied to over the years about NATO expansion.  While the US and Europe either could not, or would not, revitalize their defense industrial base, the Russians did so, with a vengeance. Meanwhile the US and Europe are standing by for the war to end and hundreds of billions are sunk into rebuilding Ukraine, which is less and less likely to happen under US and European auspices.

The bottom line is Zelensky's regime is tottering.  Because of Zelensky's martial law based regime, there will be no elections and no open political process.  But anger in the army is growing, and sooner or later they will choose a leader, most likely Zaluzhny. 

There will be regime change in Kiev, coming soon.

https://weapons.substack.com/p/regime-change-is-coming-to-kiev?r=1qo1e&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&fbclid=IwAR05P7o5VhWlW-9SVNQIKibN9BLkTAtlJdLBU6XEayiRffRQscgkP4OasPo


DougMacG

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Re: Former Sec Def Gates: Russia is winning
« Reply #1513 on: February 22, 2024, 06:32:47 AM »
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/russia-has-broken-the-stalemate-in-ukraine-former-us-defense-secretary/ar-BB1iFMWa?ocid=msedgntp&pc=DCTS&cvid=15547049a5aa4edba8d1db2bfafbfd4c&ei=6


Looks to me like he's (mostly) right, and it brings up some other points.

One is that we've never seen any public auditing of where our two years of funding so far has gone. If one penny of it has been wasted, that is too much.

"600 mile front"  Certainly that is to Russia's advantage if this is "a larger country invading a smaller one" .

The US pause makes me wonder if the Europeans will step up in our absence. From the article:

"Gates noted that European allies in NATO, “who we so often criticize,” have stepped up their support to Ukraine, but lack the ability to immediately send weapons. Production timelines will see NATO support reach the battlefield in 2025, he estimated."

(Doug).   Besides the US and Canada, NATO is 29 nations of Europe. If their weaponry readiness is zero at this point, we've uncovered a bigger problem than Ukraine.

Some months ago I argued against tying our border issue to Ukraine. Reason was that our border is an intentional, Democrat caused crisis and they won't budge. They can only be defeated and that takes time while the Ukraine need is immediate.

But since then, President Biden and the Senate Democrats did tie our border security to Ukraine funding. Within their bill they admitted that under certain circumstances such as more than 5,000 crossings per day, we do have the power  to close the border if we choose to. So do it.

The need to close our border is more immediate to US national security than the war in Ukraine, and Democrats said they want the issues tied, so be it.

Interestingly, Gates moves from his first point that Russia is winning to his last point that Ukraine needs our funding now. Our funding now to what end?

Aside from the human tragedy of war, it's not all bad that Putin has has been caught up in a quagmire. But so are we.

Seems to me that the point of the war continuing on both sides is positioning for negotiating the end game. Russia's side of it is clear. They want the world to recognize they are in permanent control of the territory and people they now occupy.

What is it we want at this point? To drive Russia back to where they started, pre-2022, to where they started pre-2014?  Yes, but if so, what would that take and are we willing to do it?  (No)

This funding bill will not do that.

Just like we had at the beginning of the war, we are stuck with a choice between two or more lousy alternatives.

The pause is forcing Europe to consider how they will defend themselves without us and I don't see them helping with the invasion at our border. An upcoming US election that overwhelmingly puts a stronger leader in place with Congress behind him is the only way to send a message of deterrence out on all fronts.

Otherwise, sending more money without a plan and without fixing our other problems makes us weaker, not stronger.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 06:43:46 AM by DougMacG »

ccp

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1514 on: February 22, 2024, 07:47:40 AM »
what little I guess
is Trump claiming he could fix this in a day
means he will pressure Zelensky to give Russia land and make a "deal"
by threatening to stop all support.

Whether that would work, whether that is the right answer I hesitate a lot.
But that is what I am thinking about when Trump beats his chest like a gorilla telling us how only he can fix this in 24 hrs.

Perhaps this is better then open ended quagmired blood money pit.

If there was any great answer we all know by now.




Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1515 on: February 22, 2024, 01:08:13 PM »
They created this mess and now they are unhappy that we do not have a happy ending solution to the La Brea tar pits into which they have mired us.

=====================

A woman in a hot-air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican.

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going.. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 01:15:30 PM by Crafty_Dog »

Body-by-Guinness

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Ukraine: Reaping What They’ve Sown
« Reply #1516 on: February 26, 2024, 03:20:12 PM »
Ye gods, what an utter freaking mess: Ukraine backed Hillary and sought to waylay Trump in 2016, with various tendrils unfurling in a manner that make it clear they are reaping all sort of harvests the sowed unintentionally. But honest, besides all this stuff the Biden admin has been totally on the up and up where all things Ukraine related are concerned:

https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2022/03/10/how_ukraine_conspired_with_dems_against_trump_to_prevent_the_kind_of_war_happening_now_under_biden_820873.html?fbclid=IwAR0XQHu4Jojy8qn25j57LX3YFGiMpfhFKYfcEjoJLcb-Iu9biqzK9aC77yo


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Uke SF in Chad fighting Wagner?!?
« Reply #1518 on: February 29, 2024, 01:35:48 PM »
New battleground. Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, confirmed for the first time that Ukrainian special operations forces were deployed to Sudan. Speaking at a forum in Kyiv on Ukraine’s future, Budanov reportedly said the goal of the deployment was to destroy the enemy everywhere it's located. The Kyiv Post has previously reported on the presence of Ukrainian special forces in Sudan seeking to capture fighters from Russia’s Wagner Group.

Open to talks. Russian officials are ready to hold talks with Ukraine in Turkey if given instructions to do so, Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said. His comments came in response to the Turkish president’s remarks that his country would host peace negotiations again if asked. Medinsky led the Russian delegation that previously participated in talks with Ukraine in Istanbul.

Crafty_Dog

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Major NYT piece: How the CIA secretly helps Ukes fight Russia
« Reply #1519 on: March 03, 2024, 06:37:45 PM »



A soldier in camouflage gear in a forest whose trees have been largely stripped of leaves.
A Ukrainian Army soldier in a forest near Russian lines this month. A C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases has been constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
The Spy War: How the C.I.A. Secretly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin
For more than a decade, the United States has nurtured a secret intelligence partnership with Ukraine that is now critical for both countries in countering Russia.

A Ukrainian Army soldier in a forest near Russian lines this month. A C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases has been constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Share full article


801
Adam EntousMichael Schwirtz
By Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz
Adam Entous and Michael Schwirtz conducted more than 200 interviews in Ukraine, several other European countries and the United States to report this story.

Published Feb. 25, 2024
Updated Feb. 28, 2024
阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版
Nestled in a dense forest, the Ukrainian military base appears abandoned and destroyed, its command center a burned-out husk, a casualty of a Russian missile barrage early in the war.

But that is above ground.


Not far away, a discreet passageway descends to a subterranean bunker where teams of Ukrainian soldiers track Russian spy satellites and eavesdrop on conversations between Russian commanders. On one screen, a red line followed the route of an explosive drone threading through Russian air defenses from a point in central Ukraine to a target in the Russian city of Rostov.

The underground bunker, built to replace the destroyed command center in the months after Russia’s invasion, is a secret nerve center of Ukraine’s military.

There is also one more secret: The base is almost fully financed, and partly equipped, by the C.I.A.

“One hundred and ten percent,” Gen. Serhii Dvoretskiy, a top intelligence commander, said in an interview at the base.

Now entering the third year of a war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, the intelligence partnership between Washington and Kyiv is a linchpin of Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. The C.I.A. and other American intelligence agencies provide intelligence for targeted missile strikes, track Russian troop movements and help support spy networks.

But the partnership is no wartime creation, nor is Ukraine the only beneficiary.

It took root a decade ago, coming together in fits and starts under three very different U.S. presidents, pushed forward by key individuals who often took daring risks. It has transformed Ukraine, whose intelligence agencies were long seen as thoroughly compromised by Russia, into one of Washington’s most important intelligence partners against the Kremlin today.


The Ukrainians also helped U.S. officials pursue the Russian operatives who meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times  (MARC:  !!!)

The listening post in the Ukrainian forest is part of a C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border. Before the war, the Ukrainians proved themselves to the Americans by collecting intercepts that helped prove Russia’s involvement in the 2014 downing of a commercial jetliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The Ukrainians also helped the Americans go after the Russian operatives who meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Around 2016, the C.I.A. began training an elite Ukrainian commando force — known as Unit 2245 — which captured Russian drones and communications gear so that C.I.A. technicians could reverse-engineer them and crack Moscow’s encryption systems. (One officer in the unit was Kyrylo Budanov, now the general leading Ukraine’s military intelligence.)

And the C.I.A. also helped train a new generation of Ukrainian spies who operated inside Russia, across Europe, and in Cuba and other places where the Russians have a large presence.

The relationship is so ingrained that C.I.A. officers remained at a remote location in western Ukraine when the Biden administration evacuated U.S. personnel in the weeks before Russia invaded in February 2022. During the invasion, the officers relayed critical intelligence, including where Russia was planning strikes and which weapons systems they would use.

“Without them, there would have been no way for us to resist the Russians, or to beat them,” said Ivan Bakanov, who was then head of Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency, the S.B.U.


The details of this intelligence partnership, many of which are being disclosed by The New York Times for the first time, have been a closely guarded secret for a decade.

In more than 200 interviews, current and former officials in Ukraine, the United States and Europe described a partnership that nearly foundered from mutual distrust before it steadily expanded, turning Ukraine into an intelligence-gathering hub that intercepted more Russian communications than the C.I.A. station in Kyiv could initially handle. Many of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence and matters of sensitive diplomacy.

Now these intelligence networks are more important than ever, as Russia is on the offensive and Ukraine is more dependent on sabotage and long-range missile strikes that require spies far behind enemy lines. And they are increasingly at risk: If Republicans in Congress end military funding to Kyiv, the C.I.A. may have to scale back.

To try to reassure Ukrainian leaders, William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, made a secret visit to Ukraine last Thursday, his 10th visit since the invasion.

From the outset, a shared adversary — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — brought the C.I.A. and its Ukrainian partners together. Obsessed with “losing” Ukraine to the West, Mr. Putin had regularly interfered in Ukraine’s political system, handpicking leaders he believed would keep Ukraine within Russia’s orbit, yet each time it backfired, driving protesters into the streets.

Mr. Putin has long blamed Western intelligence agencies for manipulating Kyiv and sowing anti-Russia sentiment in Ukraine.

Toward the end of 2021, according to a senior European official, Mr. Putin was weighing whether to launch his full-scale invasion when he met with the head of one of Russia’s main spy services, who told him that the C.I.A., together with Britain’s MI6, were controlling Ukraine and turning it into a beachhead for operations against Moscow.

But the Times investigation found that Mr. Putin and his advisers misread a critical dynamic. The C.I.A. didn’t push its way into Ukraine. U.S. officials were often reluctant to fully engage, fearing that Ukrainian officials could not be trusted, and worrying about provoking the Kremlin.


Ukraine is more dependent on sabotage and long-range missile strikes that require spies far behind enemy lines.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Yet a tight circle of Ukrainian intelligence officials assiduously courted the C.I.A. and gradually made themselves vital to the Americans. In 2015, Gen. Valeriy Kondratiuk, then Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, arrived at a meeting with the C.I.A.’s deputy station chief and without warning handed over a stack of top-secret files.

That initial tranche contained secrets about the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet, including detailed information about the latest Russian nuclear submarine designs. Before long, teams of C.I.A. officers were regularly leaving his office with backpacks full of documents.

“We understood that we needed to create the conditions of trust,” General Kondratiuk said.

As the partnership deepened after 2016, the Ukrainians became impatient with what they considered Washington’s undue caution, and began staging assassinations and other lethal operations, which violated the terms the White House thought the Ukrainians had agreed to. Infuriated, officials in Washington threatened to cut off support, but they never did.

“The relationships only got stronger and stronger because both sides saw value in it, and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv — our station there, the operation out of Ukraine — became the best source of information, signals and everything else, on Russia,” said a former senior American official. “We couldn’t get enough of it.”

This is the untold story of how it all happened.

A Cautious Beginning
The C.I.A.’s partnership in Ukraine can be traced back to two phone calls on the night of Feb. 24, 2014, eight years to the day before Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Millions of Ukrainians had just overrun the country’s pro-Kremlin government and the president, Viktor Yanukovych, and his spy chiefs had fled to Russia. In the tumult, a fragile pro-Western government quickly took power.

The government’s new spy chief, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, arrived at the headquarters of the domestic intelligence agency and found a pile of smoldering documents in the courtyard. Inside, many of the computers had been wiped or were infected with Russian malware.

“It was empty. No lights. No leadership. Nobody was there,” Mr. Nalyvaichenko said in an interview.

He went to an office and called the C.I.A. station chief and the local head of MI6. It was near midnight but he summoned them to the building, asked for help in rebuilding the agency from the ground up, and proposed a three-way partnership. “That’s how it all started,” Mr. Nalyvaichenko said.









The situation quickly became more dangerous. Mr. Putin seized Crimea. His agents fomented separatist rebellions that would become a war in the country’s east. Ukraine was on war footing, and Mr. Nalyvaichenko appealed to the C.I.A. for overhead imagery and other intelligence to help defend its territory.

With violence escalating, an unmarked U.S. government plane touched down at an airport in Kyiv carrying John O. Brennan, then the director of the C.I.A. He told Mr. Nalyvaichenko that the C.I.A. was interested in developing a relationship but only at a pace the agency was comfortable with, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

To the C.I.A., the unknown question was how long Mr. Nalyvaichenko and the pro-Western government would be around. The C.I.A. had been burned before in Ukraine.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine gained independence and then veered between competing political forces: those that wanted to remain close to Moscow and those that wanted to align with the West. During a previous stint as spy chief, Mr. Nalyvaichenko started a similar partnership with the C.I.A., which dissolved when the country swung back toward Russia.

Now Mr. Brennan explained that to unlock C.I.A. assistance the Ukrainians had to prove that they could provide intelligence of value to the Americans. They also needed to purge Russian spies; the domestic spy agency, the S.B.U., was riddled with them. (Case in point: The Russians quickly learned about Mr. Brennan’s supposedly secret visit. The Kremlin’s propaganda outlets published a photoshopped image of the C.I.A. director wearing a clown wig and makeup.)

Mr. Brennan returned to Washington, where advisers to President Barack Obama were deeply concerned about provoking Moscow. The White House crafted secret rules that infuriated the Ukrainians and that some inside the C.I.A. thought of as handcuffs. The rules barred intelligence agencies from providing any support to Ukraine that could be “reasonably expected” to have lethal consequences.





The result was a delicate balancing act. The C.I.A. was supposed to strengthen Ukraine’s intelligence agencies without provoking the Russians. The red lines were never precisely clear, which created a persistent tension in the partnership.

In Kyiv, Mr. Nalyvaichenko picked a longtime aide, General Kondratiuk, to serve as head of counterintelligence, and they created a new paramilitary unit that was deployed behind enemy lines to conduct operations and gather intelligence that the C.I.A. or MI6 would not provide to them.

Known as the Fifth Directorate, this unit would be filled with officers born after Ukraine gained independence.

“They had no connection with Russia,” General Kondratiuk said. “They didn’t even know what the Soviet Union was.”

That summer, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, blew up in midair and crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing nearly 300 passengers and crew. The Fifth Directorate produced telephone intercepts and other intelligence within hours of the crash that quickly placed responsibility on Russian-backed separatists.

The C.I.A. was impressed, and made its first meaningful commitment by providing secure communications gear and specialized training to members of the Fifth Directorate and two other elite units.

“The Ukrainians wanted fish and we, for policy reasons, couldn’t deliver that fish,” said a former U.S. official, referring to intelligence that could help them battle the Russians. “But we were happy to teach them how to fish and deliver fly-fishing equipment.”

A Secret Santa
In the summer of 2015, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, shook up the domestic service and installed an ally to replace Mr. Nalyvaichenko, the C.I.A.’s trusted partner. But the change created an opportunity elsewhere.

In the reshuffle, General Kondratiuk was appointed as the head of the country’s military intelligence agency, known as the HUR, where years earlier he had started his career. It would be an early example of how personal ties, more than policy shifts, would deepen the C.I.A.’s involvement in Ukraine.

Unlike the domestic agency, the HUR had the authority to collect intelligence outside the country, including in Russia. But the Americans had seen little value in cultivating the agency because it wasn’t producing any intelligence of value on the Russians — and because it was seen as a bastion of Russian sympathizers.

Trying to build trust, General Kondratiuk arranged a meeting with his American counterpart at the Defense Intelligence Agency and handed over a stack of secret Russian documents. But senior D.I.A. officials were suspicious and discouraged building closer ties.

The general needed to find a more willing partner.

Months earlier, while still with the domestic agency, General Kondratiuk visited the C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va. In those meetings, he met a C.I.A. officer with a jolly demeanor and a bushy beard who had been tapped to become the next station chief in Kyiv.





After a long day of meetings, the C.I.A. took General Kondratiuk to a Washington Capitals hockey match, where he and the incoming station chief sat in a luxury box and loudly booed Alex Ovechkin, the team’s star player from Russia.

The station chief had not yet arrived when General Kondratiuk handed over to the C.I.A. the secret documents about the Russian Navy. “There’s more where this came from,” he promised, and the documents were sent off to analysts in Langley.

The analysts concluded the documents were authentic, and after the station chief arrived in Kyiv, the C.I.A. became General Kondratiuk’s primary partner.

General Kondratiuk knew he needed the C.I.A. to strengthen his own agency. The C.I.A. thought the general might be able to help Langley, too. It struggled to recruit spies inside Russia because its case officers were under heavy surveillance.

“For a Russian, allowing oneself to be recruited by an American is to commit the absolute, ultimate in treachery and treason,” General Kondratiuk said. “But for a Russian to be recruited by a Ukrainian, it’s just friends talking over a beer.”

The new station chief began regularly visiting General Kondratiuk, whose office was decorated with an aquarium where yellow and blue fish — the national colors of Ukraine — swam circles around a model of a sunken Russian submarine. The two men became close, which drove the relationship between the two agencies, and the Ukrainians gave the new station chief an affectionate nickname: Santa Claus.

In January 2016, General Kondratiuk flew to Washington for meetings at Scattergood, an estate on the C.I.A. campus in Virginia where the agency often fetes visiting dignitaries. The agency agreed to help the HUR modernize, and to improve its ability to intercept Russian military communications. In exchange, General Kondratiuk agreed to share all of the raw intelligence with the Americans.

Now the partnership was real.

Operation Goldfish

Today, the narrow road leading to the secret base is framed by minefields, seeded as a line of defense in the weeks after Russia’s invasion. The Russian missiles that hit the base had seemingly shut it down, but just weeks later the Ukrainians returned.

With money and equipment provided by the C.I.A., crews under General Dvoretskiy’s command began to rebuild, but underground. To avoid detection, they only worked at night and when Russian spy satellites were not overhead. Workers also parked their cars a distance away from the construction site.

In the bunker, General Dvoretskiy pointed to communications equipment and large computer servers, some of which were financed by the C.I.A. He said his teams were using the base to hack into the Russian military’s secure communications networks.

“This is the thing that breaks into satellites and decodes secret conversations,” General Dvoretskiy told a Times journalist on a tour, adding that they were hacking into spy satellites from China and Belarus, too.

Another officer placed two recently produced maps on a table, as evidence of how Ukraine is tracking Russian activity around the world.

The first showed the overhead routes of Russian spy satellites traveling over central Ukraine. The second showed how Russian spy satellites are passing over strategic military installations — including a nuclear weapons facility — in the eastern and central United States.


The C.I.A. began sending equipment in 2016, after the pivotal meeting at Scattergood, General Dvoretskiy said, providing encrypted radios and devices for intercepting secret enemy communications.

Beyond the base, the C.I.A. also oversaw a training program, carried out in two European cities, to teach Ukrainian intelligence officers how to convincingly assume fake personas and steal secrets in Russia and other countries that are adept at rooting out spies. The program was called Operation Goldfish, which derived from a joke about a Russian-speaking goldfish who offers two Estonians wishes in exchange for its freedom.

The punchline was that one of the Estonians bashed the fish’s head with a rock, explaining that anything speaking Russian could not be trusted.

The Operation Goldfish officers were soon deployed to 12 newly-built, forward operating bases constructed along the Russian border. From each base, General Kondratiuk said, the Ukrainian officers ran networks of agents who gathered intelligence inside Russia.

C.I.A. officers installed equipment at the bases to help gather intelligence and also identified some of the most skilled Ukrainian graduates of the Operation Goldfish program, working with them to approach potential Russian sources. These graduates then trained sleeper agents on Ukrainian territory meant to launch guerrilla operations in case of occupation.

It can often take years for the C.I.A. to develop enough trust in a foreign agency to begin conducting joint operations. With the Ukrainians it had taken less than six months. The new partnership started producing so much raw intelligence about Russia that it had to be shipped to Langley for processing.

But the C.I.A. did have red lines. It wouldn’t help the Ukrainians conduct offensive lethal operations.

“We made a distinction between intelligence collection operations and things that go boom,” a former senior U.S. official said.

‘This is Our Country’
It was a distinction that grated on the Ukrainians.

First, General Kondratiuk was annoyed when the Americans refused to provide satellite images from inside Russia. Soon after, he requested C.I.A. assistance in planning a clandestine mission to send HUR commandos into Russia to plant explosive devices at train depots used by the Russian military. If the Russian military sought to take more Ukrainian territory, Ukrainians could detonate the explosives to slow the Russian advance.

When the station chief briefed his superiors, they “lost their minds,” as one former official put it. Mr. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, called General Kondratiuk to make certain that mission was canceled and that Ukraine abided by the red lines forbidding lethal operations.

General Kondratiuk canceled the mission, but he also took a different lesson. “Going forward, we worked to not have discussions about these things with your guys,” he said.

Late that summer, Ukrainian spies discovered that Russian forces were deploying attack helicopters at an airfield on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, possibly to stage a surprise attack.

General Kondratiuk decided to send a team into Crimea to plant explosives at the airfield so they could be detonated if Russia moved to attack.

This time, he didn’t ask the C.I.A. for permission. He turned to Unit 2245, the commando force that received specialized military training from the C.I.A.’s elite paramilitary group, known as the Ground Department. The intent of the training was to teach defensive techniques, but C.I.A. officers understood that without their knowledge the Ukrainians could use the same techniques in offensive lethal operations.

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Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko talking by a stairway.
Petro Poroshenko, then the president of Ukraine, right, and Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the U.S. vice president, during a meeting in Kyiv in 2015.Credit...Pool photo by Mikhail Palinchak
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At the time, the future head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, General Budanov, was a rising star in Unit 2245. He was known for daring operations behind enemy lines and had deep ties to the C.I.A. The agency had trained him and also taken the extraordinary step of sending him for rehabilitation to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after he was shot in the right arm during fighting in the Donbas.

Disguised in Russian uniforms, then-Lt. Col. Budanov led commandos across a narrow gulf in inflatable speedboats, landing at night in Crimea.

But an elite Russian commando unit was waiting for them. The Ukrainians fought back, killing several Russian fighters, including the son of a general, before retreating to the shoreline, plunging into the sea and swimming for hours to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

It was a disaster. In a public address, President Putin accused the Ukrainians of plotting a terrorist attack and promised to avenge the deaths of the Russian fighters.

“There is no doubt that we will not let these things pass,” he said.

In Washington, the Obama White House was livid. Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the vice president and a champion of assistance to Ukraine, called Ukraine’s president to angrily complain.

“It causes a gigantic problem,” Mr. Biden said in the call, a recording of which was leaked and published online. “All I’m telling you as a friend is that my making arguments here is a hell of a lot harder now.”

Some of Mr. Obama’s advisers wanted to shut the C.I.A. program down, but Mr. Brennan persuaded them that doing so would be self-defeating, given the relationship was starting to produce intelligence on the Russians as the C.I.A. was investigating Russian election meddling.

Mr. Brennan got on the phone with General Kondratiuk to again emphasize the red lines.

The general was upset. “This is our country,” he responded, according to a colleague. “It’s our war, and we’ve got to fight.”

The blowback from Washington cost General Kondratiuk his job. But Ukraine didn’t back down.

One day after General Kondratiuk was removed, a mysterious explosion in the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, ripped through an elevator carrying a senior Russian separatist commander named Arsen Pavlov, known by his nom de guerre, Motorola.

The C.I.A. soon learned that the assassins were members of the Fifth Directorate, the spy group that received C.I.A. training. Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency had even handed out commemorative patches to those involved, each one stitched with the word “Lift,” the British term for an elevator.

Again, some of Mr. Obama’s advisers were furious, but they were lame ducks — the presidential election pitting Donald J. Trump against Hillary Rodham Clinton was three weeks away — and the assassinations continued.

A team of Ukrainian agents set up an unmanned, shoulder-fired rocket launcher in a building in the occupied territories. It was directly across from the office of a rebel commander named Mikhail Tolstykh, better known as Givi. Using a remote trigger, they fired the launcher as soon as Givi entered his office, killing him, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

A shadow war was now in overdrive. The Russians used a car bomb to assassinate the head of Unit 2245, the elite Ukrainian commando force. The commander, Col. Maksim Shapoval, was on his way to meeting with C.I.A. officers in Kyiv when his car exploded.

At the colonel’s wake, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, stood in mourning beside the C.I.A. station chief. Later, C.I.A. officers and their Ukrainian counterparts toasted Colonel Shapoval with whiskey shots.

“For all of us,” General Kondratiuk said, “it was a blow.”

Tiptoeing Around Trump
The election of Mr. Trump in November 2016 put the Ukrainians and their C.I.A. partners on edge.

Mr. Trump praised Mr. Putin and dismissed Russia’s role in election interference. He was suspicious of Ukraine and later tried to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate his Democratic rival, Mr. Biden, resulting in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.

But whatever Mr. Trump said and did, his administration often went in the other direction. This is because Mr. Trump had put Russia hawks in key positions, including Mike Pompeo as C.I.A. director and John Bolton as national security adviser. They visited Kyiv to underline their full support for the secret partnership, which expanded to include more specialized training programs and the building of additional secret bases.

The base in the forest grew to include a new command center and barracks, and swelled from 80 to 800 Ukrainian intelligence officers. Preventing Russia from interfering in future U.S. elections was a top C.I.A. priority during this period, and Ukrainian and American intelligence officers joined forces to probe the computer systems of Russia’s intelligence agencies to identify operatives trying to manipulate voters.


In one joint operation, a HUR team duped an officer from Russia’s military intelligence service into providing information that allowed the C.I.A. to connect Russia’s government to the so-called Fancy Bear hacking group, which had been linked to election interference efforts in a number of countries.

General Budanov, whom Mr. Zelensky tapped to lead the HUR in 2020, said of the partnership: “It only strengthened. It grew systematically. The cooperation expanded to additional spheres and became more large-scale.”

The relationship was so successful that the C.I.A. wanted to replicate it with other European intelligence services that shared a focus in countering Russia.

The head of Russia House, the C.I.A. department overseeing operations against Russia, organized a secret meeting at The Hague. There, representatives from the C.I.A., Britain’s MI6, the HUR, the Dutch service (a critical intelligence ally) and other agencies agreed to start pooling together more of their intelligence on Russia.

The result was a secret coalition against Russia — and the Ukrainians were vital members of it.

March to War
In March 2021, the Russian military started massing troops along the border with Ukraine. As the months passed, and more troops encircled the country, the question was whether Mr. Putin was making a feint or preparing for war.

That November, and in the weeks that followed, the C.I.A. and MI6 delivered a unified message to their Ukrainian partners: Russia was preparing for a full-scale invasion to decapitate the government and install a puppet in Kyiv who would do the Kremlin’s bidding.

U.S. and British intelligence agencies had intercepts that Ukrainian intelligence agencies did not have access to, according to U.S. officials. The new intelligence listed the names of Ukrainian officials whom the Russians were planning to kill or capture, as well as the Ukrainians the Kremlin hoped to install in power.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at a news conference in Kyiv in March 2022.Credit...Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
President Zelensky and some of his top advisers appeared unconvinced, even after Mr. Burns, the C.I.A. director, rushed to Kyiv in January 2022 to brief them.

As the Russian invasion neared, C.I.A. and MI6 officers made final visits in Kyiv with their Ukrainian peers. One of the MI6 officers teared up in front of the Ukrainians, out of concern that the Russians would kill them.

At Mr. Burns’s urging, a small group of C.I.A. officers were exempted from the broader U.S. evacuation and were relocated to a hotel complex in western Ukraine. They didn’t want to desert their partners.

No Endgame
After Mr. Putin launched the invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, the C.I.A. officers at the hotel were the only U.S. government presence on the ground. Every day at the hotel, they met with their Ukrainian contacts to pass information. The old handcuffs were off, and the Biden White House authorized spy agencies to provide intelligence support for lethal operations against Russian forces on Ukrainian soil.

Often, the C.I.A. briefings contained shockingly specific details.

On March 3, 2022 — the eighth day of the war — the C.I.A. team gave a precise overview of Russian plans for the coming two weeks. The Russians would open a humanitarian corridor out of the besieged city of Mariupol that same day, and then open fire on the Ukrainians who used it.

The Russians planned to encircle the strategic port city of Odesa, according to the C.I.A., but a storm delayed the assault and the Russians never took the city. Then, on March 10, the Russians intended to bombard six Ukrainian cities, and had already entered coordinates into cruise missiles for those strikes.

The Russians also were trying to assassinate top Ukrainian officials, including Mr. Zelensky. In at least one case, the C.I.A. shared intelligence with Ukraine’s domestic agency that helped disrupt a plot against the president, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

When the Russian assault on Kyiv had stalled, the C.I.A. station chief rejoiced and told his Ukrainian counterparts that they were “punching the Russians in the face,” according to a Ukrainian officer who was in the room.


Within weeks, the C.I.A. had returned to Kyiv, and the agency sent in scores of new officers to help the Ukrainians. A senior U.S. official said of the C.I.A.’s sizable presence, “Are they pulling triggers? No. Are they helping with targeting? Absolutely.”

Some of the C.I.A. officers were deployed to Ukrainian bases. They reviewed lists of potential Russian targets that the Ukrainians were preparing to strike, comparing the information that the Ukrainians had with U.S. intelligence to ensure that it was accurate.

Before the invasion, the C.I.A. and MI6 had trained their Ukrainian counterparts on recruiting sources, and building clandestine and partisan networks. In the southern Kherson region, which was occupied by Russia in the first weeks of the war, those partisan networks sprang into action, according to General Kondratiuk, assassinating local collaborators and helping Ukrainian forces target Russian positions.

In July 2022, Ukrainian spies saw Russian convoys preparing to cross a strategic bridge across the Dnipro river and notified MI6. British and American intelligence officers then quickly verified the Ukrainian intelligence, using real-time satellite imagery. MI6 relayed the confirmation, and the Ukrainian military opened fire with rockets, destroying the convoys.

At the underground bunker, General Dvoretskiy said a German antiaircraft system now defends against Russian attacks. An air-filtration system guards against chemical weapons and a dedicated power system is available, if the power grid goes down.

The question that some Ukrainian intelligence officers are now asking their American counterparts — as Republicans in the House weigh whether to cut off billions of dollars in aid — is whether the C.I.A. will abandon them. “It happened in Afghanistan before and now it’s going to happen in Ukraine,” a senior Ukrainian officer said.

Referring to Mr. Burns’s visit to Kyiv last week, a C.I.A. official said, “We have demonstrated a clear commitment to Ukraine over many years and this visit was another strong signal that the U.S. commitment will continue.”

The C.I.A. and the HUR have built two other secret bases to intercept Russian communications, and combined with the 12 forward operating bases, which General Kondratiuk says are still operational, the HUR now collects and produces more intelligence than at any time in the war — much of which it shares with the C.I.A.

“You can’t get information like this anywhere — except here, and now,” General Dvoretskiy said.

Natalia Yermak and Christiaan Triebert contributed reporting.

Audio produced by Patricia Sulbarán.

Image

A home, flying Ukrainian and American flags, standing in the destroyed and mostly abandoned village of Rubizhne in the Kharkiv region, close to the Russian border, in December.Credit...David Guttenfelder for The New York Times
Adam Entous is a Washington-based investigative correspondent and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Before joining the Washington bureau of The Times, he covered intelligence, national security and foreign policy for The New Yorker magazine, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. More about Adam Entous

Michael Schwirtz is an investigative reporter with the International desk. With The Times since 2006, he previously covered the countries of the former Soviet Union from Moscow and was a lead reporter on a team that won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for articles about Russian intelligence operations. More about Michael Schwirtz


ccp

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VDH comparison to Verdun
« Reply #1521 on: March 08, 2024, 08:04:17 AM »
and Ukraine should forget about Donbas and Crimea

and get peace.

Better then continuing to fight an endless standoff.

https://dailycaller.com/2024/03/07/victor-davis-hanson-million-casualties-ukraine-stalemate/

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1522 on: March 09, 2024, 05:26:34 AM »
Just had a couple of hours yesterday of very interesting conversation with someone of subtantial first hand information about all of this.  He said essentially what VDH is saying here.

ccp

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VDH podcast with Sen. Ron Johnson
« Reply #1523 on: March 09, 2024, 06:00:45 AM »
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/wisconsin-watch-dog-interview-with-ron-johnson/id1570380458?i=1000647756958

they talk a lot about Ukraine

They more or less agree it is time to deal

Donbass and Crimea an d promise to keep Ukraine out of NATO for peace and Russia recognizes rest of Ukraine as independent.

My minimal opinion thinks this is the most sensible way out for both sides
as otherwise we could go on like this for another 10 yrs at this rate.
 

Body-by-Guinness

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Ukraine/Russia War Data Visualization
« Reply #1524 on: March 09, 2024, 12:16:00 PM »
I can’t attest for their accuracy of all shown here, but it’s some pretty darn interesting ways to frame this info:

https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/ukraine-russian-war-infographics-data-visuals/#two-years
« Last Edit: March 09, 2024, 07:51:51 PM by Body-by-Guinness »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1525 on: March 09, 2024, 05:12:31 PM »
Seems like a serious effort, well aware of the abundant pitfalls.


Crafty_Dog

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NYT: CIA in Ukraine
« Reply #1527 on: March 12, 2024, 07:48:41 AM »
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/25/world/europe/cia-ukraine-intelligence-russia-war.html?unlocked_article_code=1.ZU0.cVMV.WUQNdzfehBE8&smid=nytcore-android-share

A Ukrainian Army soldier in a forest near Russian lines this month. A C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases has been constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

The Spy War: How the C.I.A. Secretly Helps Ukraine Fight Putin

For more than a decade, the United States has nurtured a secret intelligence partnership with Ukraine that is now critical for both countries in countering Russia.

A Ukrainian Army soldier in a forest near Russian lines this month. A C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases has been constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times



Published Feb. 25, 2024
Updated Feb. 28, 2024

Nestled in a dense forest, the Ukrainian military base appears abandoned and destroyed, its command center a burned-out husk, a casualty of a Russian missile barrage early in the war.

But that is above ground.

Listen to this article with reporter commentary
Open this article in the New York Times Audio app on iOS.

Not far away, a discreet passageway descends to a subterranean bunker where teams of Ukrainian soldiers track Russian spy satellites and eavesdrop on conversations between Russian commanders. On one screen, a red line followed the route of an explosive drone threading through Russian air defenses from a point in central Ukraine to a target in the Russian city of Rostov.

The underground bunker, built to replace the destroyed command center in the months after Russia’s invasion, is a secret nerve center of Ukraine’s military.

There is also one more secret: The base is almost fully financed, and partly equipped, by the C.I.A.

“One hundred and ten percent,” Gen. Serhii Dvoretskiy, a top intelligence commander, said in an interview at the base.

Now entering the third year of a war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, the intelligence partnership between Washington and Kyiv is a linchpin of Ukraine’s ability to defend itself. The C.I.A. and other American intelligence agencies provide intelligence for targeted missile strikes, track Russian troop movements and help support spy networks.

But the partnership is no wartime creation, nor is Ukraine the only beneficiary.

It took root a decade ago, coming together in fits and starts under three very different U.S. presidents, pushed forward by key individuals who often took daring risks. It has transformed Ukraine, whose intelligence agencies were long seen as thoroughly compromised by Russia, into one of Washington’s most important intelligence partners against the Kremlin today.

The Ukrainians also helped U.S. officials pursue the Russian operatives who meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

The listening post in the Ukrainian forest is part of a C.I.A.-supported network of spy bases constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border. Before the war, the Ukrainians proved themselves to the Americans by collecting intercepts that helped prove Russia’s involvement in the 2014 downing of a commercial jetliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The Ukrainians also helped the Americans go after the Russian operatives who meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Around 2016, the C.I.A. began training an elite Ukrainian commando force — known as Unit 2245 — which captured Russian drones and communications gear so that C.I.A. technicians could reverse-engineer them and crack Moscow’s encryption systems. (One officer in the unit was Kyrylo Budanov, now the general leading Ukraine’s military intelligence.)

And the C.I.A. also helped train a new generation of Ukrainian spies who operated inside Russia, across Europe, and in Cuba and other places where the Russians have a large presence.

The relationship is so ingrained that C.I.A. officers remained at a remote location in western Ukraine when the Biden administration evacuated U.S. personnel in the weeks before Russia invaded in February 2022. During the invasion, the officers relayed critical intelligence, including where Russia was planning strikes and which weapons systems they would use.

“Without them, there would have been no way for us to resist the Russians, or to beat them,” said Ivan Bakanov, who was then head of Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency, the S.B.U.


The details of this intelligence partnership, many of which are being disclosed by The New York Times for the first time, have been a closely guarded secret for a decade.

In more than 200 interviews, current and former officials in Ukraine, the United States and Europe described a partnership that nearly foundered from mutual distrust before it steadily expanded, turning Ukraine into an intelligence-gathering hub that intercepted more Russian communications than the C.I.A. station in Kyiv could initially handle. Many of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence and matters of sensitive diplomacy.

Now these intelligence networks are more important than ever, as Russia is on the offensive and Ukraine is more dependent on sabotage and long-range missile strikes that require spies far behind enemy lines. And they are increasingly at risk: If Republicans in Congress end military funding to Kyiv, the C.I.A. may have to scale back.

To try to reassure Ukrainian leaders, William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, made a secret visit to Ukraine last Thursday, his 10th visit since the invasion.

From the outset, a shared adversary — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — brought the C.I.A. and its Ukrainian partners together. Obsessed with “losing” Ukraine to the West, Mr. Putin had regularly interfered in Ukraine’s political system, handpicking leaders he believed would keep Ukraine within Russia’s orbit, yet each time it backfired, driving protesters into the streets.

Mr. Putin has long blamed Western intelligence agencies for manipulating Kyiv and sowing anti-Russia sentiment in Ukraine.

Toward the end of 2021, according to a senior European official, Mr. Putin was weighing whether to launch his full-scale invasion when he met with the head of one of Russia’s main spy services, who told him that the C.I.A., together with Britain’s MI6, were controlling Ukraine and turning it into a beachhead for operations against Moscow.

But the Times investigation found that Mr. Putin and his advisers misread a critical dynamic. The C.I.A. didn’t push its way into Ukraine. U.S. officials were often reluctant to fully engage, fearing that Ukrainian officials could not be trusted, and worrying about provoking the Kremlin.


Ukraine is more dependent on sabotage and long-range missile strikes that require spies far behind enemy lines.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Yet a tight circle of Ukrainian intelligence officials assiduously courted the C.I.A. and gradually made themselves vital to the Americans. In 2015, Gen. Valeriy Kondratiuk, then Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, arrived at a meeting with the C.I.A.’s deputy station chief and without warning handed over a stack of top-secret files.

That initial tranche contained secrets about the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet, including detailed information about the latest Russian nuclear submarine designs. Before long, teams of C.I.A. officers were regularly leaving his office with backpacks full of documents.

“We understood that we needed to create the conditions of trust,” General Kondratiuk said.

As the partnership deepened after 2016, the Ukrainians became impatient with what they considered Washington’s undue caution, and began staging assassinations and other lethal operations, which violated the terms the White House thought the Ukrainians had agreed to. Infuriated, officials in Washington threatened to cut off support, but they never did.

“The relationships only got stronger and stronger because both sides saw value in it, and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv — our station there, the operation out of Ukraine — became the best source of information, signals and everything else, on Russia,” said a former senior American official. “We couldn’t get enough of it.”

This is the untold story of how it all happened.

A Cautious Beginning
The C.I.A.’s partnership in Ukraine can be traced back to two phone calls on the night of Feb. 24, 2014, eight years to the day before Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Millions of Ukrainians had just overrun the country’s pro-Kremlin government and the president, Viktor Yanukovych, and his spy chiefs had fled to Russia. In the tumult, a fragile pro-Western government quickly took power.

The government’s new spy chief, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, arrived at the headquarters of the domestic intelligence agency and found a pile of smoldering documents in the courtyard. Inside, many of the computers had been wiped or were infected with Russian malware.

“It was empty. No lights. No leadership. Nobody was there,” Mr. Nalyvaichenko said in an interview.

He went to an office and called the C.I.A. station chief and the local head of MI6. It was near midnight but he summoned them to the building, asked for help in rebuilding the agency from the ground up, and proposed a three-way partnership. “That’s how it all started,” Mr. Nalyvaichenko said.

The situation quickly became more dangerous. Mr. Putin seized Crimea. His agents fomented separatist rebellions that would become a war in the country’s east. Ukraine was on war footing, and Mr. Nalyvaichenko appealed to the C.I.A. for overhead imagery and other intelligence to help defend its territory.

With violence escalating, an unmarked U.S. government plane touched down at an airport in Kyiv carrying John O. Brennan, then the director of the C.I.A. He told Mr. Nalyvaichenko that the C.I.A. was interested in developing a relationship but only at a pace the agency was comfortable with, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

To the C.I.A., the unknown question was how long Mr. Nalyvaichenko and the pro-Western government would be around. The C.I.A. had been burned before in Ukraine.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine gained independence and then veered between competing political forces: those that wanted to remain close to Moscow and those that wanted to align with the West. During a previous stint as spy chief, Mr. Nalyvaichenko started a similar partnership with the C.I.A., which dissolved when the country swung back toward Russia.

Now Mr. Brennan explained that to unlock C.I.A. assistance the Ukrainians had to prove that they could provide intelligence of value to the Americans. They also needed to purge Russian spies; the domestic spy agency, the S.B.U., was riddled with them. (Case in point: The Russians quickly learned about Mr. Brennan’s supposedly secret visit. The Kremlin’s propaganda outlets published a photoshopped image of the C.I.A. director wearing a clown wig and makeup.)

Mr. Brennan returned to Washington, where advisers to President Barack Obama were deeply concerned about provoking Moscow. The White House crafted secret rules that infuriated the Ukrainians and that some inside the C.I.A. thought of as handcuffs. The rules barred intelligence agencies from providing any support to Ukraine that could be “reasonably expected” to have lethal consequences.



The result was a delicate balancing act. The C.I.A. was supposed to strengthen Ukraine’s intelligence agencies without provoking the Russians. The red lines were never precisely clear, which created a persistent tension in the partnership.

In Kyiv, Mr. Nalyvaichenko picked a longtime aide, General Kondratiuk, to serve as head of counterintelligence, and they created a new paramilitary unit that was deployed behind enemy lines to conduct operations and gather intelligence that the C.I.A. or MI6 would not provide to them.

Known as the Fifth Directorate, this unit would be filled with officers born after Ukraine gained independence.

“They had no connection with Russia,” General Kondratiuk said. “They didn’t even know what the Soviet Union was.”

That summer, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, blew up in midair and crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing nearly 300 passengers and crew. The Fifth Directorate produced telephone intercepts and other intelligence within hours of the crash that quickly placed responsibility on Russian-backed separatists.

The C.I.A. was impressed, and made its first meaningful commitment by providing secure communications gear and specialized training to members of the Fifth Directorate and two other elite units.

“The Ukrainians wanted fish and we, for policy reasons, couldn’t deliver that fish,” said a former U.S. official, referring to intelligence that could help them battle the Russians. “But we were happy to teach them how to fish and deliver fly-fishing equipment.”

A Secret Santa
In the summer of 2015, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, shook up the domestic service and installed an ally to replace Mr. Nalyvaichenko, the C.I.A.’s trusted partner. But the change created an opportunity elsewhere.

In the reshuffle, General Kondratiuk was appointed as the head of the country’s military intelligence agency, known as the HUR, where years earlier he had started his career. It would be an early example of how personal ties, more than policy shifts, would deepen the C.I.A.’s involvement in Ukraine.

Unlike the domestic agency, the HUR had the authority to collect intelligence outside the country, including in Russia. But the Americans had seen little value in cultivating the agency because it wasn’t producing any intelligence of value on the Russians — and because it was seen as a bastion of Russian sympathizers.

Trying to build trust, General Kondratiuk arranged a meeting with his American counterpart at the Defense Intelligence Agency and handed over a stack of secret Russian documents. But senior D.I.A. officials were suspicious and discouraged building closer ties.

The general needed to find a more willing partner.

Months earlier, while still with the domestic agency, General Kondratiuk visited the C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va. In those meetings, he met a C.I.A. officer with a jolly demeanor and a bushy beard who had been tapped to become the next station chief in Kyiv.

After a long day of meetings, the C.I.A. took General Kondratiuk to a Washington Capitals hockey match, where he and the incoming station chief sat in a luxury box and loudly booed Alex Ovechkin, the team’s star player from Russia.

The station chief had not yet arrived when General Kondratiuk handed over to the C.I.A. the secret documents about the Russian Navy. “There’s more where this came from,” he promised, and the documents were sent off to analysts in Langley.

The analysts concluded the documents were authentic, and after the station chief arrived in Kyiv, the C.I.A. became General Kondratiuk’s primary partner.

General Kondratiuk knew he needed the C.I.A. to strengthen his own agency. The C.I.A. thought the general might be able to help Langley, too. It struggled to recruit spies inside Russia because its case officers were under heavy surveillance.

“For a Russian, allowing oneself to be recruited by an American is to commit the absolute, ultimate in treachery and treason,” General Kondratiuk said. “But for a Russian to be recruited by a Ukrainian, it’s just friends talking over a beer.”

The new station chief began regularly visiting General Kondratiuk, whose office was decorated with an aquarium where yellow and blue fish — the national colors of Ukraine — swam circles around a model of a sunken Russian submarine. The two men became close, which drove the relationship between the two agencies, and the Ukrainians gave the new station chief an affectionate nickname: Santa Claus.

In January 2016, General Kondratiuk flew to Washington for meetings at Scattergood, an estate on the C.I.A. campus in Virginia where the agency often fetes visiting dignitaries. The agency agreed to help the HUR modernize, and to improve its ability to intercept Russian military communications. In exchange, General Kondratiuk agreed to share all of the raw intelligence with the Americans.

Now the partnership was real.

Operation Goldfish
Today, the narrow road leading to the secret base is framed by minefields, seeded as a line of defense in the weeks after Russia’s invasion. The Russian missiles that hit the base had seemingly shut it down, but just weeks later the Ukrainians returned.

With money and equipment provided by the C.I.A., crews under General Dvoretskiy’s command began to rebuild, but underground. To avoid detection, they only worked at night and when Russian spy satellites were not overhead. Workers also parked their cars a distance away from the construction site.

In the bunker, General Dvoretskiy pointed to communications equipment and large computer servers, some of which were financed by the C.I.A. He said his teams were using the base to hack into the Russian military’s secure communications networks.

“This is the thing that breaks into satellites and decodes secret conversations,” General Dvoretskiy told a Times journalist on a tour, adding that they were hacking into spy satellites from China and Belarus, too.

Another officer placed two recently produced maps on a table, as evidence of how Ukraine is tracking Russian activity around the world.

The first showed the overhead routes of Russian spy satellites traveling over central Ukraine. The second showed how Russian spy satellites are passing over strategic military installations — including a nuclear weapons facility — in the eastern and central United States.


The C.I.A. began sending equipment in 2016, after the pivotal meeting at Scattergood, General Dvoretskiy said, providing encrypted radios and devices for intercepting secret enemy communications.

Beyond the base, the C.I.A. also oversaw a training program, carried out in two European cities, to teach Ukrainian intelligence officers how to convincingly assume fake personas and steal secrets in Russia and other countries that are adept at rooting out spies. The program was called Operation Goldfish, which derived from a joke about a Russian-speaking goldfish who offers two Estonians wishes in exchange for its freedom.

The punchline was that one of the Estonians bashed the fish’s head with a rock, explaining that anything speaking Russian could not be trusted.

The Operation Goldfish officers were soon deployed to 12 newly-built, forward operating bases constructed along the Russian border. From each base, General Kondratiuk said, the Ukrainian officers ran networks of agents who gathered intelligence inside Russia.

C.I.A. officers installed equipment at the bases to help gather intelligence and also identified some of the most skilled Ukrainian graduates of the Operation Goldfish program, working with them to approach potential Russian sources. These graduates then trained sleeper agents on Ukrainian territory meant to launch guerrilla operations in case of occupation.

It can often take years for the C.I.A. to develop enough trust in a foreign agency to begin conducting joint operations. With the Ukrainians it had taken less than six months. The new partnership started producing so much raw intelligence about Russia that it had to be shipped to Langley for processing.

But the C.I.A. did have red lines. It wouldn’t help the Ukrainians conduct offensive lethal operations.

“We made a distinction between intelligence collection operations and things that go boom,” a former senior U.S. official said.

‘This is Our Country’
It was a distinction that grated on the Ukrainians.

First, General Kondratiuk was annoyed when the Americans refused to provide satellite images from inside Russia. Soon after, he requested C.I.A. assistance in planning a clandestine mission to send HUR commandos into Russia to plant explosive devices at train depots used by the Russian military. If the Russian military sought to take more Ukrainian territory, Ukrainians could detonate the explosives to slow the Russian advance.

When the station chief briefed his superiors, they “lost their minds,” as one former official put it. Mr. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, called General Kondratiuk to make certain that mission was canceled and that Ukraine abided by the red lines forbidding lethal operations.

General Kondratiuk canceled the mission, but he also took a different lesson. “Going forward, we worked to not have discussions about these things with your guys,” he said.

Late that summer, Ukrainian spies discovered that Russian forces were deploying attack helicopters at an airfield on the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula, possibly to stage a surprise attack.

General Kondratiuk decided to send a team into Crimea to plant explosives at the airfield so they could be detonated if Russia moved to attack.

This time, he didn’t ask the C.I.A. for permission. He turned to Unit 2245, the commando force that received specialized military training from the C.I.A.’s elite paramilitary group, known as the Ground Department. The intent of the training was to teach defensive techniques, but C.I.A. officers understood that without their knowledge the Ukrainians could use the same techniques in offensive lethal operations.


At the time, the future head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, General Budanov, was a rising star in Unit 2245. He was known for daring operations behind enemy lines and had deep ties to the C.I.A. The agency had trained him and also taken the extraordinary step of sending him for rehabilitation to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after he was shot in the right arm during fighting in the Donbas.

Disguised in Russian uniforms, then-Lt. Col. Budanov led commandos across a narrow gulf in inflatable speedboats, landing at night in Crimea.

But an elite Russian commando unit was waiting for them. The Ukrainians fought back, killing several Russian fighters, including the son of a general, before retreating to the shoreline, plunging into the sea and swimming for hours to Ukrainian-controlled territory.

It was a disaster. In a public address, President Putin accused the Ukrainians of plotting a terrorist attack and promised to avenge the deaths of the Russian fighters.

“There is no doubt that we will not let these things pass,” he said.

In Washington, the Obama White House was livid. Joseph R. Biden Jr., then the vice president and a champion of assistance to Ukraine, called Ukraine’s president to angrily complain.

“It causes a gigantic problem,” Mr. Biden said in the call, a recording of which was leaked and published online. “All I’m telling you as a friend is that my making arguments here is a hell of a lot harder now.”

Some of Mr. Obama’s advisers wanted to shut the C.I.A. program down, but Mr. Brennan persuaded them that doing so would be self-defeating, given the relationship was starting to produce intelligence on the Russians as the C.I.A. was investigating Russian election meddling.

Mr. Brennan got on the phone with General Kondratiuk to again emphasize the red lines.

The general was upset. “This is our country,” he responded, according to a colleague. “It’s our war, and we’ve got to fight.”

The blowback from Washington cost General Kondratiuk his job. But Ukraine didn’t back down.


One day after General Kondratiuk was removed, a mysterious explosion in the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, ripped through an elevator carrying a senior Russian separatist commander named Arsen Pavlov, known by his nom de guerre, Motorola.

The C.I.A. soon learned that the assassins were members of the Fifth Directorate, the spy group that received C.I.A. training. Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency had even handed out commemorative patches to those involved, each one stitched with the word “Lift,” the British term for an elevator.

Again, some of Mr. Obama’s advisers were furious, but they were lame ducks — the presidential election pitting Donald J. Trump against Hillary Rodham Clinton was three weeks away — and the assassinations continued.

A team of Ukrainian agents set up an unmanned, shoulder-fired rocket launcher in a building in the occupied territories. It was directly across from the office of a rebel commander named Mikhail Tolstykh, better known as Givi. Using a remote trigger, they fired the launcher as soon as Givi entered his office, killing him, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

A shadow war was now in overdrive. The Russians used a car bomb to assassinate the head of Unit 2245, the elite Ukrainian commando force. The commander, Col. Maksim Shapoval, was on his way to meeting with C.I.A. officers in Kyiv when his car exploded.

At the colonel’s wake, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, stood in mourning beside the C.I.A. station chief. Later, C.I.A. officers and their Ukrainian counterparts toasted Colonel Shapoval with whiskey shots.

“For all of us,” General Kondratiuk said, “it was a blow.”

Tiptoeing Around Trump
The election of Mr. Trump in November 2016 put the Ukrainians and their C.I.A. partners on edge.

Mr. Trump praised Mr. Putin and dismissed Russia’s role in election interference. He was suspicious of Ukraine and later tried to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate his Democratic rival, Mr. Biden, resulting in Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.

But whatever Mr. Trump said and did, his administration often went in the other direction. This is because Mr. Trump had put Russia hawks in key positions, including Mike Pompeo as C.I.A. director and John Bolton as national security adviser. They visited Kyiv to underline their full support for the secret partnership, which expanded to include more specialized training programs and the building of additional secret bases.

The base in the forest grew to include a new command center and barracks, and swelled from 80 to 800 Ukrainian intelligence officers. Preventing Russia from interfering in future U.S. elections was a top C.I.A. priority during this period, and Ukrainian and American intelligence officers joined forces to probe the computer systems of Russia’s intelligence agencies to identify operatives trying to manipulate voters.

In one joint operation, a HUR team duped an officer from Russia’s military intelligence service into providing information that allowed the C.I.A. to connect Russia’s government to the so-called Fancy Bear hacking group, which had been linked to election interference efforts in a number of countries.

General Budanov, whom Mr. Zelensky tapped to lead the HUR in 2020, said of the partnership: “It only strengthened. It grew systematically. The cooperation expanded to additional spheres and became more large-scale.”

The relationship was so successful that the C.I.A. wanted to replicate it with other European intelligence services that shared a focus in countering Russia.

The head of Russia House, the C.I.A. department overseeing operations against Russia, organized a secret meeting at The Hague. There, representatives from the C.I.A., Britain’s MI6, the HUR, the Dutch service (a critical intelligence ally) and other agencies agreed to start pooling together more of their intelligence on Russia.

The result was a secret coalition against Russia — and the Ukrainians were vital members of it.

March to War
In March 2021, the Russian military started massing troops along the border with Ukraine. As the months passed, and more troops encircled the country, the question was whether Mr. Putin was making a feint or preparing for war.

That November, and in the weeks that followed, the C.I.A. and MI6 delivered a unified message to their Ukrainian partners: Russia was preparing for a full-scale invasion to decapitate the government and install a puppet in Kyiv who would do the Kremlin’s bidding.

U.S. and British intelligence agencies had intercepts that Ukrainian intelligence agencies did not have access to, according to U.S. officials. The new intelligence listed the names of Ukrainian officials whom the Russians were planning to kill or capture, as well as the Ukrainians the Kremlin hoped to install in power.


President Zelensky and some of his top advisers appeared unconvinced, even after Mr. Burns, the C.I.A. director, rushed to Kyiv in January 2022 to brief them.

As the Russian invasion neared, C.I.A. and MI6 officers made final visits in Kyiv with their Ukrainian peers. One of the MI6 officers teared up in front of the Ukrainians, out of concern that the Russians would kill them.

At Mr. Burns’s urging, a small group of C.I.A. officers were exempted from the broader U.S. evacuation and were relocated to a hotel complex in western Ukraine. They didn’t want to desert their partners.

No Endgame
After Mr. Putin launched the invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, the C.I.A. officers at the hotel were the only U.S. government presence on the ground. Every day at the hotel, they met with their Ukrainian contacts to pass information. The old handcuffs were off, and the Biden White House authorized spy agencies to provide intelligence support for lethal operations against Russian forces on Ukrainian soil.

Often, the C.I.A. briefings contained shockingly specific details.

On March 3, 2022 — the eighth day of the war — the C.I.A. team gave a precise overview of Russian plans for the coming two weeks. The Russians would open a humanitarian corridor out of the besieged city of Mariupol that same day, and then open fire on the Ukrainians who used it.

The Russians planned to encircle the strategic port city of Odesa, according to the C.I.A., but a storm delayed the assault and the Russians never took the city. Then, on March 10, the Russians intended to bombard six Ukrainian cities, and had already entered coordinates into cruise missiles for those strikes.

The Russians also were trying to assassinate top Ukrainian officials, including Mr. Zelensky. In at least one case, the C.I.A. shared intelligence with Ukraine’s domestic agency that helped disrupt a plot against the president, according to a senior Ukrainian official.

When the Russian assault on Kyiv had stalled, the C.I.A. station chief rejoiced and told his Ukrainian counterparts that they were “punching the Russians in the face,” according to a Ukrainian officer who was in the room.

Image
A man shoveling sand on a beach where fortifications were built.
A Ukrainian Army soldier preparing defenses at a beachfront position in Odesa in 2022.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
Image
A crowd of people with police officers at the edges.
Crowds gathering for food handouts in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson after it was retaken from Russian occupation, in 2022.Credit...Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times
Within weeks, the C.I.A. had returned to Kyiv, and the agency sent in scores of new officers to help the Ukrainians. A senior U.S. official said of the C.I.A.’s sizable presence, “Are they pulling triggers? No. Are they helping with targeting? Absolutely.”

Some of the C.I.A. officers were deployed to Ukrainian bases. They reviewed lists of potential Russian targets that the Ukrainians were preparing to strike, comparing the information that the Ukrainians had with U.S. intelligence to ensure that it was accurate.

Before the invasion, the C.I.A. and MI6 had trained their Ukrainian counterparts on recruiting sources, and building clandestine and partisan networks. In the southern Kherson region, which was occupied by Russia in the first weeks of the war, those partisan networks sprang into action, according to General Kondratiuk, assassinating local collaborators and helping Ukrainian forces target Russian positions.

In July 2022, Ukrainian spies saw Russian convoys preparing to cross a strategic bridge across the Dnipro river and notified MI6. British and American intelligence officers then quickly verified the Ukrainian intelligence, using real-time satellite imagery. MI6 relayed the confirmation, and the Ukrainian military opened fire with rockets, destroying the convoys.

At the underground bunker, General Dvoretskiy said a German antiaircraft system now defends against Russian attacks. An air-filtration system guards against chemical weapons and a dedicated power system is available, if the power grid goes down.

The question that some Ukrainian intelligence officers are now asking their American counterparts — as Republicans in the House weigh whether to cut off billions of dollars in aid — is whether the C.I.A. will abandon them. “It happened in Afghanistan before and now it’s going to happen in Ukraine,” a senior Ukrainian officer said.

Referring to Mr. Burns’s visit to Kyiv last week, a C.I.A. official said, “We have demonstrated a clear commitment to Ukraine over many years and this visit was another strong signal that the U.S. commitment will continue.”

The C.I.A. and the HUR have built two other secret bases to intercept Russian communications, and combined with the 12 forward operating bases, which General Kondratiuk says are still operational, the HUR now collects and produces more intelligence than at any time in the war — much of which it shares with the C.I.A.

“You can’t get information like this anywhere — except here, and now,” General Dvoretskiy said.

Natalia Yermak and Christiaan Triebert contributed reporting.

Audio produced by Patricia Sulbarán.

DougMacG

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Re: NYT: CIA in Ukraine
« Reply #1528 on: March 12, 2024, 09:06:24 AM »
Too bad we didn't have a spy network in Gaza.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Uke drones hitting Russia
« Reply #1529 on: March 12, 2024, 04:05:25 PM »
Drones and raids. Ukrainian drones targeted eight Russian regions overnight. The attacks sparked a fire at a fuel and energy complex in Nizhny Novgorod and damaged another in Oryol. Separately, Russian volunteers fighting for Ukraine said they had crossed the border and were battling Russian forces in Belgorod and Kursk. The attacks appear intended to disrupt Russian elections this week.


Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: the Cost of Peace in Ukraine
« Reply #1531 on: March 13, 2024, 02:47:33 PM »
Not that I agree with all of this:

The Dire Cost of ‘Peace’ in Ukraine
Kyiv can’t stand on its own, but a Russian victory would leave the U.S. far worse off.
By William A. Galston
March 12, 2024 1:37 pm ET

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Donald Trump Friday at Mar-a-Lago, and told Hungarian state media on Sunday that Mr. Trump “will not give a penny in the Ukraine-Russia war. Therefore, the war will end, because it is obvious that Ukraine cannot stand on its own feet.”

Mr. Orbán is probably right. Mr. Trump’s antipathy toward Ukraine is no secret, and our European allies will find it difficult to sustain Ukraine’s struggle against Vladimir Putin without the U.S., linchpin of the pro-Ukraine coalition.

As Washington delays aid to Kyiv, the situation on the ground is deteriorating. Although Ukraine’s recent reverses in Avdiivka haven’t produced an all-out Russian surge, Russia’s forces are slowly advancing along several fronts. Ukrainian forces can bend only so much before they break.

I recently participated in a background briefing on the situation from some leading politico-military experts, who agreed that Ukraine faces three principal problems. First, it is running short on manpower, not because it has reached the bottom of the demographic barrel but because its mobilization policy is too narrow. Ukraine excludes men under 27 from the draft, in part to help meet the labor-force needs of the civilian economy. Although the precise level of the staffing shortfall is one of Ukraine’s carefully guarded military secrets, it’s clear that it’s substantial and growing.

At bottom this is a political issue. An expanded draft is unpopular, and almost no Ukrainian official wants to take the lead in proposing one. Last month, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhny was replaced as commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, in part because President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly was unhappy about Gen. Zaluzhny’s support of the Defense Ministry’s request for another 500,000 troops. A proposal to lower the draft age to 25 is tied up in Ukraine’s Parliament and may remain so until Mr. Zelensky signals his backing.

Ukraine’s second problem is its lack of strong fortifications where it most needs them. In part this is an issue of resources. With Ukraine’s forces holding the line along an extended front and Ukrainians working continuously to keep the country’s infrastructure functioning, building strong defensive positions behind the front line hasn’t been the highest priority. The government’s strategy of defending current positions at all costs while preparing to retake the offensive has also contributed to the inadequacy of its rearguard defenses.

Ukraine’s much-discussed ammunition shortage is the third major problem. According to numerous reports, including from front-line commanders, Russian forces have enjoyed a 5-to-1 advantage in these essential supplies for several months, and the imbalance may be growing. Russia also enjoys air superiority because Ukraine lacks adequate supplies of antiaircraft missiles. Our allies are helping to fill these gaps, but without the U.S. in the lead, the shortfall will continue.

This is why Kyiv and all of Europe are anxiously watching Washington, where additional aid for Ukraine has become entangled with other issues, including immigration policy, some Democrats’ objection to unrestricted aid for Israel, and Republican fiscal hawks’ desire to slash the so-called discretionary budget, the portion of federal spending subject to annual appropriations.

Last month, Mr. Trump’s disapproval of a Senate compromise on border security to accompany a Ukraine aid package led Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to block a bill he supported, forcing the Senate to send the House an aid bill for Ukraine, Israel and Asia-Pacific allies with no immigration provisions. Speaker Mike Johnson’s refusal to bring this bill to the floor produced the current impasse.

As I’ve written, House backers of aid for Ukraine are working on parliamentary procedures that could get a bill to the floor over the speaker’s objections. In mid-February, a bipartisan group led by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) and Jared Golden (D., Maine) introduced a compromise proposal to strengthen border security and provide defense funding for Ukraine, with no aid for Kyiv’s government operations. Over the weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested that Mr. Trump might if re-elected be willing to aid Ukraine with loans rather than grants.

No one knows which of these strategies, if any, has the best chance of succeeding. What we know is that if the U.S. fails to act, Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression will weaken and ultimately fail. This would bring Mr. Putin closer to his long-term goals—obliterating Ukraine’s sovereignty, weakening the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and restoring Russian control over the peoples and territories of the former Soviet bloc.

After his Mar-a-Lago visit, Mr. Orbán called Donald Trump a “man of peace.” So, I suppose, was Neville Chamberlain. The problem, as Chamberlain discovered, is that your own pacific intentions don’t matter much if the other side doesn’t share them.

Crafty_Dog

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Crimea: Russian ship down
« Reply #1532 on: March 16, 2024, 11:52:31 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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How the Russian Navy Lost to a Country Without Any Boats
« Reply #1533 on: March 22, 2024, 04:48:31 PM »
How the Russian Navy Lost to a Country Without Any Boats

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6UeNBj9rrU

Body-by-Guinness

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Avidiivaka Battle Analysis
« Reply #1534 on: March 23, 2024, 03:39:47 PM »
Deep look with lots of links in the piece of a recent Ukraine/Russia major battle:

Battle of Avdiivka: A Preliminary Analysis

BY JOHN HARDIE | March 22, 2024 | @JohnH105
This article offers a preliminary analysis of the Battle of Avdiivka, particularly its final weeks. While more information will no doubt come to light as time passes, some initial conclusions stand out. Overall, the battle was favorable for Ukraine in that it sapped a large amount of Russian combat power. But once the city’s fall became inevitable, Ukraine’s withdrawal commenced too late. Ukraine also failed to adequately prepare a secondary line of defense behind Avdiivka. Still, Russia will likely be unable to make major additional gains in the area, at least in the near term.

Background: Russia’s Monthslong Offensive at Avdiivka

A small city located near Donetsk, Avdiivka had been on the front line for nearly a decade. By fall 2023, it was already semi-encircled. Moscow launched its most recent offensive in October, aiming to envelop Avdiivka from the north and southwest.

Russia devoted a sizable force to the operation. It consisted mainly of units from the 1st Army Corps and from Central Military District (CMD) brigades that had recently redeployed to the Avdiivka area. The initial attack comprised mechanized infantry and armor units totaling perhaps a regiment in strength — far larger than the company- or platoon-sized assaults on which both sides have come to rely. In the subsequent days, Russia continued to feed additional units into the offensive. Artillery and aviation provided support, although Russia probably struggled to synchronize between combat arms.

Facing a prepared Ukrainian defense, Russia’s initial attacks yielded little more than heavy losses. Ukrainian drone reconnaissance could quickly spot Russian columns as they advanced through fields. Ukrainian mines, first-person view (FPV) attack drones, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), and artillery fire chewed up the attacking forces. Russian observers complained of insufficient counter-battery fire and poor coordination between units, manned largely by hastily trained personnel.

To shore up Avdiivka’s defense, Ukraine transferred additional forces to the area. They included the 47th Mechanized Brigade, equipped with Western-supplied Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Leopard tanks. The 47th Brigade redeployed from Zaporizhzhia Oblast to Avdiivka’s northern flank in October despite having had little time to recover from significant losses suffered during Ukraine’s unsuccessful 2023 counteroffensive.

After its initial attacks failed, Russia reverted to inching forward using small assault groups. (This shift echoed a similar Ukrainian adaptation during Kyiv’s recent counteroffensive.) The Russians took a large slag heap near Avdiivka later in October, gaining important high ground at the city’s northern edge.

Russian forces eventually began attempting to penetrate the city itself. They achieved minor gains in southern Avdiivka in November, December, and January. In the latter case, 150 troops from Russia’s 60th “Veterans” Sabotage-Assault Brigade reportedly used an underground pipe to infiltrate to the rear of Ukrainian forces at the “Tsars’ka Okhota” fortified restaurant complex, although Ukraine ultimately contained the breakthrough. Meanwhile, in January, Russia also crept forward on Avdiivka’s northern outskirts.

Russia’s modest gains came at the cost of enormous losses, including hundreds of vehicles and many thousands of troops. Its equipment losses would eventually force Russia to transfer in some vehicles from its 25th Combined Arms Army, fighting in the area near Lyman to the northeast.

At the same time, Ukraine also ran increasingly low on men and ammunition. Kyiv’s troops grew exhausted due to lack of rotation, while Russia threw in more and more reserves. (According to Ukrainian military officials, Russia had around 40,000 to 50,000 troops in the Avdiivka area.) Russia enjoyed a considerable quantitative advantage in artillery, while shell hunger hamstrung Ukraine’s counter-battery fire and defense against assaults. Heavy Russian artillery fire and bombing gradually reduced Ukrainian defensive positions.

Russian Breakthrough

Russian bombing reportedly intensified in January. Moscow’s “UMPK,” an add-on kit that turns dumb bombs into guided glide bombs that can be launched from standoff range, enabled the Russian Air Force to play a greater role than it could earlier in the war. While often inaccurate, the UMPK allowed Russia to pound static targets. Russia reportedly dropped dozens of bombs on Avdiivka per day. Ukrainian troops later described Russian bombing as a key factor behind the city’s fall. The continual bombardment took a toll on morale, with most troops in Avdiivka suffering concussions, Ukrainian soldiers recounted.

In early February, Russian forces broke into Avdiivka from the north, through the “Ivushka” garden community. They thus bypassed the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant, the key defensive stronghold at the city’s northwestern end. Ukrainian reports said the Russians exploited fog, which impedes unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations.

The Russians pushed toward the 00542 road and Industrial Avenue. The 00542 was Ukraine’s main supply route — and only paved road — into Avdiivka. It feeds into Industrial Avenue, which connects the coke plant to the “9th Quarter” high-rise microdistrict in southwestern Avdiivka. The 9th Quarter’s tall buildings provide a dominant height for conducting surveillance and drone and ATGM strikes. The 9th Quarter also sits next to the Avdiivka-Sjeverne road, Ukraine’s secondary ground line of communication to the city.

The breakthrough and the pace of Russia’s subsequent advance appeared to catch Ukraine off-guard. By February 5, Russian forces had reportedly pressed to within roughly a kilometer from the mouth of the 00542 road.

Reports vary as to which Russian units led the attack. According to some Russian and Ukrainian sources, elements of the 114th Motor Rifle Brigade (1st Army Corps), reinforced by units from the 80th Tank Regiment (90th Tank Division, CMD) and 30th Motor Rifle Brigade (2nd Combined Arms Army, CMD), executed the main effort.

However, other Russian and Ukrainian reports give different accounts. According to prominent Russian blogger Boris Rozhin, elements of the 74th Motor Rifle Brigade (41st CAA, CMD), supported by 114th Brigade units, were the first to enter Avdiivka. He said these forces were tasked with severing the 00542 road and allowing troops from the 35th, 55th, 15th, and 30th motor rifle brigades (41st and 2nd CAAs, CMD) to enter battle, which they allegedly did by the end of February 9. (A Ukrainian unit fighting in Avdiivka later said Russia had indeed deployed forces from those six brigades plus the 2nd CAA’s 21st Motor Rifle Brigade.) Meanwhile, Rozhin said, Russian assault groups also attacked Avdiivka from the northeast and south.


Estimation of Russian advances in Avdiivka as of February 8, 2024, based on Ukrainian reports and other open-source information.
Ukraine Deploys Reinforcements

Kyiv scrambled to deploy reinforcements, most notably the elite 3rd Assault Brigade, led by the former commander of the Azov Regiment. One 3rd Brigade officer later asserted that the reinforcements were tasked with containing Russia’s advance to enable the withdrawal of other Ukrainian units. However, another Ukrainian military source told the Long War Journal that he believed the Ukrainian command initially aimed to reverse Russia’s gains and hold Avdiivka. Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov reported the same. Regardless, by this point, Avdiivka’s fall was likely inevitable, as the 3rd Brigade officer noted.

When it deployed to Avdiivka, the 3rd Assault Brigade had been in the middle of replenishing its ranks and equipment after tough fighting in the Bakhmut area. Many of the 3rd Brigade troops who fought in Avdiivka had not seen combat before. Two officers from the brigade lamented that its already difficult task was made harder by a lack of well-prepared defensive positions within the city. Ukrainian troops recounted having to defend positions that were already lost or destroyed. Ukrainian soldiers also say they were heavily outnumbered. Still, Kyiv’s forces likely continued to inflict significant losses.

Video footage confirms that elements of the 3rd Assault Brigade had entered battle by February 13. However, its deputy commander later indicated that 3rd Brigade troops had arrived as early as February 4. Butusov similarly reported that the 3rd Brigade deployed to the Avdiivka area on February 3 and entered battle on February 6. The commander of the brigade’s 2nd Assault Battalion indicated his troops fought in the city for “nine days,” meaning they arrived on February 8 or 9. The commander of that battalion’s “NC 13” platoon said his men stayed in Avdiivka for “seven days.” A 3rd Brigade medic similarly said her unit (the 3rd Assault Company) arrived in Avdiivka on February 10.

Meanwhile, Ukraine withdrew some exhausted units from the 110th Mechanized Brigade, a press officer said on February 13. Since the 110th’s formation nearly two years prior, it had served as the backbone of Avdiivka’s defense, reportedly without rotation. A Ukrainian soldier later said the resultant exhaustion had led 110th Brigade troops to abandon their positions “without prior coordination.”

Russia Pushes Deeper Into Avdiivka

Russian forces continued to push past the railway that runs through Avdiivka. By February 13, they had reportedly severed Industrial Avenue after capturing the “Avtobaza” facility near that road. The Russians were soon threatening Lastochkyne, a small village just west of the city. Assault units from Russia’s 30th Brigade were the first to reach Industrial Avenue, soldiers from the brigade later claimed. By the afternoon of February 15, Russian forces, reportedly from the 30th and 114th brigades, had reached the intersection between the 00542 road and Industrial Avenue and taken the nearby “Brevno” restaurant complex.

Ukrainian accounts and video footage indicate BMPs (infantry fighting vehicles) and tanks supported Russian assault infantry inside Avdiivka. Russian spetsnaz (elite infantry) and SSO (special operations forces), equipped with night-vision devices, reportedly conducted nighttime assaults and sabotage operations and directed artillery fire and airstrikes. UAV crews from various units also directed artillery fire and bomb strikes and targeted Ukrainian forces using FPV drones.

Meanwhile, Russia was also advancing around “Zenit,” an old air defense base that served as a key defensive stronghold south of Avdiivka. On or around February 11, Russian forces reportedly began advancing near Opytne, a village southwest of Avdiivka. They were threatening to encircle Zenit by linking up with the Russian troops consolidated at Avdiivka’s southwestern edge. From there, they likely aimed to reach the 9th Quarter and cut the Avdiivka-Sjeverne road.

Late Withdrawal

Withdraw operations are highly challenging. If not carefully orchestrated, they can result in heavy casualties. Ukraine’s withdrawal from Avdiivka took too long to commence and at times seems to have been poorly coordinated. As some Ukrainian soldiers pointed out, the delay echoed Kyiv’s previous decisions to cling to nearly encircled cities — most notably Bakhmut — well after doing so became unwise.

Despite the growing risk of encirclement, Ukraine apparently held onto its easternmost position within the Avdiivka pocket, the Donetsk Filtration Station, for a remarkably long time. Information from Russian and Ukrainian sources indicates Ukrainian troops likely began withdrawing from the station on February 15. Russian forces, reportedly from the “Pyatnashka” and “Viking” units (1st Army Corps), took the station by the morning of February 16.

The delay’s consequences were perhaps most acute at Zenit. According to a soldier from a 110th Brigade company that defended Zenit, by January Ukrainian troops had to ration small-arms ammunition, food, and water. At around 9 PM on February 13, the soldiers were reportedly told to retreat “on their own.” Ukraine’s 53rd Mechanized Brigade was responsible for covering the withdrawal from Zenit, the brigade later said.

Small groups of 110th Brigade troops began leaving for Avdiivka on foot, but many were killed or wounded on the way there, according to soldiers from the brigade. The 110th said the withdrawal occurred amid “continuous bombardment by enemy aircraft and artillery, constant attacks by FPV drones, attacks on evacuation vehicles, and shelling of evacuation routes.”

Some of the troops at Zenit stayed behind to hold off the Russians and enable the evacuation of six wounded comrades. But on the morning of February 15, they were told evacuation vehicles could not reach their position. The troops were forced to abandon the wounded, narrowly escaping Zenit through a corridor that was reportedly just 120 meters wide. They then had to flee westward on foot to the villages of Sjeverne and Tonen’ke. By that point, Russia had rendered the 00542 road unusable, attacking anything that passed with artillery and tank fire, a 110th Brigade spokesman confirmed. (Troops from Russia’s 114th Brigade raised a flag on the famous sign on the 00542 by February 16.)

Infantrymen from Russia’s 1st “Slavic” Motor Rifle Brigade (1st Army Corps) took Zenit by the afternoon of February 15. Some of the wounded Ukrainian soldiers left behind at Zenit were later seen dead in Russian-released footage. The Ukrainians allege they were shot.

That same day, 1st Brigade forces also took the “Cheburashka” and “Vinogradniki-2” areas on Avdiivka’s southwestern outskirts. According to Russian sources, Russian troops reached Vinogradniki-2 using the same pipe previously used to infiltrate to the Tsars’ka Okhota area. Troops from the “Veterans” Brigade participated in the assault on southwestern Avdiivka. Elements of that brigade, along with forces from the 1487th Motor Rifle Regiment, 87th Rifle Regiment, and 10th Tank Regiment, reportedly continued to attack in southern and southeastern Avdiivka.

Withdrawing in Small Groups

Accounts from Ukrainian soldiers, along with video footage that began emerging on social media by February 16, indicate Ukrainian troops withdrew from Avdiivka itself in small groups over multiple days, often on foot. Because Russia had fire control over the 00542 road, the Ukrainians relied mainly on dirt roads. Retreating Ukrainian troops had to brave Russian artillery, bombs, and one-way attack drones. A unit from Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade later said a “large number” of vehicles were “lost and damaged” during the withdrawal.

As Ukrainian troops withdrew, Russian forces pushed deeper into the city. Troops from Russia’s 55th Brigade reached the park in central Avdiivka by February 16. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, they pushed toward the city’s center via Soborna Street. Meanwhile, troops from Russia’s 74th Brigade progressed through the residential and industrial areas near the quarry on Avdiivka’s northeastern outskirts.

At this point, Ukrainian forces still held the coke plant, which reportedly housed around 1,000 troops. Ukraine reportedly also retained control of the area between the rail station and Turhenjeva Street in southwestern Avdiivka, providing a corridor through which to withdraw toward Sjeverne. Elements of Russia’s 30th Brigade were allegedly attacking southward to try to block the Avdiivka-Sjeverne road.

Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s newly installed commander-in-chief, officially announced the withdrawal shortly before 1 AM on February 17. Syrskyi said he had ordered Ukrainian units to leave the city “in order to avoid encirclement.” A Ukrainian military spokesman later said the withdrawal was completed on February 17.

Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Brigade said troops from its 25th Assault Battalion were the last to leave the coke plant. Soldiers from the 3rd Assault Brigade’s 2nd Assault Battalion, responsible for holding Ukraine’s left flank, withdrew “next to last,” its commander said. The 3rd Brigade reportedly received its withdrawal order on February 16 and had largely evacuated the coke plant by 5 AM the next day. Ukrainian troops claimed no one was left behind at the plant and the withdrawal from the facility proceeded in a hasty but orderly manner. 3rd Brigade officers said some of the brigade’s units were at times encircled but managed to break out.

According to Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate (HUR), troops from the 3rd and 110th brigades, HUR and SSO units, the State Border Guard Service’s “Dozor” unit, and the 225th Separate Assault Battalion held the evacuation corridor while the main force withdrew. Ukraine’s 53rd Brigade said it held the 9th Quarter. 53rd Brigade troops withdrew shortly after dawn on February 17, just before Russia took control of the Avdiivka-Sjeverne road. Some Ukrainian servicemen claimed Ukrainian artillery provided good cover for the withdrawal.

In many cases, Ukrainian troops appear to have hurriedly abandoned their positions, leaving behind things such as anti-tank weapons, ammunition, grenades, and Starlink terminals.­ In some (perhaps most) cases, higher echelons did coordinate the retreats using radio communications and drones. But some soldiers reportedly did not receive formal withdrawal orders and simply retreated on their own accord to avoid destruction or capture.

According to The New York Times, Ukrainian soldiers said some units retreated before others were aware the withdrawal had begun, putting them at risk of encirclement. The soldiers reportedly said communication issues, stemming from incompatible radio equipment operated by different Ukrainian units, led troops to be captured, wounded, or killed. Russian electronic warfare may have also played a role. According to a 3rd Brigade officer, Russian jamming made it difficult for Ukrainian units to communicate with higher echelons during the last several days of Avdiivka’s defense.

Russia Completes Capture of Avdiivka

Later on February 17, troops from Russia’s 114th Brigade raised a flag at the Avdiivka coke plant, while 35th Brigade soldiers occupied the Avdiivka rail station. Troops from Russia’s 239th Tank Regiment (90th Tank Division, CMD), 24th Spetsnaz Brigade, and 35th Brigade reached the Avdiivka city administration building, near the 9th Quarter. Russian soldiers raised a flag at the 9th Quarter’s southern end that same day.

74th Brigade troops operated in northeastern Avdiivka (reportedly along Pervomaiska Street) and raised a flag as far south as Mira Street. Gunfire could be heard in footage shared by 74th Brigade soldiers on February 17, indicating some Ukrainian troops may have still been in the city at that time. Similarly, Pyatnashka soldiers claimed (without providing evidence) that they encountered Ukrainian troops in Avdiivka on February 17.

The withdrawal was a perilous moment for Ukraine. If the bulk of Kyiv’s forces in Avdiivka were encircled and destroyed or captured, it would sap morale and facilitate further Russian gains west of the city.

On February 18, the commander of Ukraine’s “Tavria” Operational-Strategic Grouping of Troops, whose aera of responsibility includes Avdiivka, admitted that “a certain number of Ukrainian soldiers were captured” during the withdrawal’s “final stage.” A platoon commander from the 53rd Brigade said that while everyone from his battalion managed to escape, some Ukrainian troops “did get stuck.” He said his platoon had planned to return but was later ordered not to do so. The withdrawal “was planned very badly” if it was planned at all, he opined.

Exactly how many Ukrainians were captured remains unclear, however. Estimates vary. At the high end, a February 20 New York Times report cited two Ukrainian soldiers who estimated that 850 to 1,000 troops were captured or missing. This would have constituted a very large portion (perhaps even a majority) of Ukraine’s force inside Avdiivka during the city’s final defense. But while unnamed Western officials said that range seemed correct, available evidence suggests the true figure was much lower.

The estimate provided to The Times exceeds even the (likely inflated) figures touted by Colonel-General Andrei Mordvichev, the Russian commander responsible for Avdiivka. On February 24, he claimed that roughly 200 Ukrainian troops had surrendered during the clearing of Avdiivka and another 100 were expected in the coming days. U.S. officials told The Washington Post that Ukrainian officials had privately estimated that around 100 soldiers were captured. This estimate tracks with the number of purported Ukrainian prisoners seen in Russian-released videos reviewed by the Long War Journal.

On balance, it appears the bulk of the Ukrainian force in Avdiivka escaped the pocket, even if the withdrawal was less than orderly at times.

Aftermath of Avdiivka’s Fall

During the monthslong battle for Avdiivka, Ukraine failed to construct a solid second line of defense behind the city. This left Ukrainian troops in a tough spot once Avdiivka fell, forcing them to dig in and lay mines amid active fighting.

Russia has since managed to capture a handful of low-lying villages west of Avdiivka through attritional attacks by small assault groups. Moscow likely hopes its forces can reach the city of Pokrovsk, an important logistical hub in Donetsk Oblast. Pokrovsk is around 40 kilometers from Avdiivka as the crow flies.

Meanwhile, to the southwest, Russian forces are attacking near the towns of Marinka and Krasnohorivka, forcing Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade to quickly redeploy two companies to the latter. Russia reportedly also transferred its 10th Tank Regiment to Novomykhailivka to try to help the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade finish taking that village.

However, Russia likely will not manage to make large-scale gains, at least in the near term. Russian momentum has slowed, and the bodies of water west of Avdiivka can serve as natural barriers. In addition, a new Czech-led initiative to secure 800,000 artillery shells for Kyiv should help alleviate Ukraine’s shell hunger. So will the eventual passage of the U.S. supplemental assistance bill, expected in April.

Furthermore, Russia has so far proven unable to rebuild force quality. As such, the Russians will likely continue to struggle to scale offensive operations. Moscow’s initial attacks at Avdiivka provide a good example. Russia will thus have to continue attempting to inch forward through small-scale assaults, suffering heavy losses in the process.

This will give Ukraine more time to build fortifications near Avdiivka and elsewhere, which the Ukrainians have finally begun doing in earnest. And over the long run, Russia cannot sustain such a high rate of losses.

John Hardie is the deputy director of FDD’s Russia Program and a contributor to FDD's Long War Journal.

https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2024/03/battle-of-avdiivka-a-preliminary-analysis.php?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=battle-of-avdiivka-a-preliminary-analysis

Crafty_Dog

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How Russian Navy lost to a country without any ships
« Reply #1535 on: March 25, 2024, 02:16:47 PM »
Note discussion of Sevastopol too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6UeNBj9rrU

Crafty_Dog

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Biden backstabs Ukes going after Russian oil and gas
« Reply #1536 on: March 25, 2024, 02:58:58 PM »

ccp

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Body-by-Guinness

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Ukraine Destroys Russian Bombers
« Reply #1539 on: April 05, 2024, 10:55:10 AM »
Ukraine hits Russian bombers said to carry nukes, destroying a half dozen and damaging more. I’d guess it’s unlikely this was accomplished without US targeting info and support, and the drones likely aren’t off the shelf devices, and Putin knows it. Is the current admin baiting Putin? Do they have the wherewithal to respond correctly should they provoke a Russian response?

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1885246/putin-russia-ukraine-drone-attack?fbclid=IwAR3VSribNMK2rUNtEZh68aAgRYsPMZRXMFiVaCaHfFrmC5BzWhsVQfMnEaU

Crafty_Dog

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Crooked Joe back stabs the Ukes again
« Reply #1540 on: April 06, 2024, 07:50:42 PM »
Biden Tells Ukraine Not to Hit Russia
The White House fears attacks on refineries inside Russia could raise global prices.
By The Editorial Board
April 5, 2024 5:40 pm ET


President Biden’s policy of ambivalence toward Ukraine means that he has provided enough weapons to avoid defeat (at least so far) but with enough constraints that Kyiv also hasn’t been able to win. Witness U.S. unhappiness about Ukraine’s recent strikes on Russian territory.

Ukraine has struck at least 15 of Russia’s 30 major refineries since January. The West has been reluctant to let Ukraine use donated weapons to strike Russian territory, so Kyiv has relied on its own drones to do it. On Tuesday Ukrainian drones targeted Russia’s third-largest oil refinery, as well as a facility that manufactures Shahed drones. And on Friday Ukraine struck Russia’s Morozovsk air base, destroying several military aircraft.

Some of these attacks occurred more than 750 miles from the Ukrainian border, a testament to Ukraine’s military innovation. The Institute for the Study of War said the April 2 strikes represent “a significant inflection in Ukraine’s demonstrated capability to conduct long-range strikes far into the Russian rear.”

But last month the Financial Times reported the Biden Administration had urged Ukraine to halt its campaign targeting Russian refineries and warned that “the drone strikes risk driving up global oil prices and provoking retaliation.”

U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said Tuesday that “in terms of actually going after targets inside Russia, that is something that the United States is not particularly supportive of.” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller declined last week “to speak to specific conversations” regarding the Russian refineries. But he said “it has always been our position since the outset of this war that we do not encourage or support Ukraine taking strikes outside its own territory.”

So Ukraine has to suffer attacks on its territory, but it can’t hit back at its aggressor? Striking Russian air bases and drone facilities have obvious military value, and Russia’s refineries obviously help to fuel and finance the Kremlin’s war machine. Between Feb. 24, 2022, and January 2024, Russia has damaged or destroyed some $9 billion in Ukrainian energy infrastructure, according to the Kyiv School of Economics.

Ukraine’s strikes have disrupted between 10% and 14% of Russia’s refinery capacity. British defense intelligence notes that “depending on the extent of the damage, major repairs could take considerable time and expense.” Russia will also have to deploy air defenses to protect its refineries.

Ukraine’s goal with the strikes is to complicate Russia’s efforts to fuel its troops. S&P Global Commodity Insights estimates that in May 2022 Russia’s military campaign was consuming nearly 6% of domestic diesel output. Moscow has since made some energy data national secrets. But George Voloshin of Aperio Intelligence estimates the armed forces continue to consume between 11.2 and 14.9 million liters of fuel a day, roughly 3.5% to 4.5% of Russia’s total daily consumption.

Sanctions have created spare refining capacity in Belarus, but Russia may have to reconfigure the routes it uses to get fuel to the front. Vladimir Putin will prioritize filling tanks over Russians’ cars, and the refinery attacks will likely cause local fuel disruptions that bring the war home to Russians.

Despite sanctions, oil and gas revenues accounted for 32% of Russia’s total federal budget in 2023, according to a paper by Vitaly Yermakov of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. The refinery strikes have prompted Russia to impose restrictions on gasoline exports between March 1 and Sept. 1. Russia will likely try to offset this by increasing crude oil exports, but Ukraine could also target Russia’s oil export terminals.

Ukraine’s strikes on Russia won’t decide the war’s outcome, but they are important as Ukraine’s dwindling ammo and air defenses limit other options. While Mr. Putin continues to escalate, the White House frets about the Russian response to any perceived escalation. The bigger geopolitical risk is what will happen if Ukraine falls to Russian aggression. If the U.S. won’t offer more arms, the least it can do is get out of Ukraine’s way.

Crafty_Dog

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FO: US supplied guns & ammo to Ukraine captured en route to Yemen from Iran
« Reply #1543 on: April 10, 2024, 11:20:02 AM »


U.S. Central Command intercepted thousands of machine guns and sniper rifles along with 500,000 rounds of ammunition being transferred from Iran to Yemen. The Department of Justice reported the firearms and ammunition have been transferred to the Ukrainian military.


ya

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1545 on: April 21, 2024, 08:00:07 PM »
Martin Armstrong has been saying war is coming for months. His Socrates arrays and other models point to May 7 for something big. Thats also the day Putin is sworn in office. This is a big projection...so lets see how it goes.



ccp

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from above post's link
« Reply #1548 on: April 23, 2024, 12:14:41 PM »
"Congress’ plan to deliver roughly $60 billion in aid to Ukraine would only provide Kyiv with several more months’ worth of military equipment, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Ukraine is urging the West to quickly pass an aid package as the country’s war against Russia has largely stalled out amid a shortage of weapons, munitions and manpower. The $60.8 billion aid package that the House passed on Saturday would be quickly delivered to the frontlines of the war, although it’s unclear to what degree it will benefit Ukraine in its war against Russia, according to the Times. "

Now I can see why Sen Mike Lee is against another 80 bill or so going to Ukraine on top of the 113 bill already sent.

For God sakes can't we negotiate

ok to negotiate with terrorists but not Putin.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2024, 12:16:19 PM by ccp »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Ukraine
« Reply #1549 on: April 23, 2024, 01:54:47 PM »
OTOH what happens on the field of battle and on the American political landscape if we didn't send the money/ammo?