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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Newsweek reveals CIA role in Ukraine

The spy agency is leading US efforts to aid Kiev, but claims it can’t predict Zelensky’s actions

The Central Intelligence Agency has boots on the ground in Ukraine and operates a clandestine supply network to help the government in Kiev to fight Russia, Newsweek reported on Wednesday, citing anonymous sources within the US government.

“The CIA was central to the war even before it started,” claimed the article, written by William Arkin. Its director, William Burns, famously visited Moscow in January 2022 and, though he failed to persuade Russia not to “invade,” he got the Kremlin to accept US “rules” – at least according to Arkin and his sources.

Supposedly articulated by US President Joe Biden, the “rules” state that Washington and Kiev “will not undertake any actions that might threaten Russia itself or the survival of the Russian state.” In return, Moscow “won’t escalate the war beyond Ukraine or resort to the use of nuclear weapons.” 

Read more: Ukraine’s alleged role in Moscow’s drone attacks

It “falls to the US to enforce those pledges,” a senior defense intelligence official told Newsweek on condition of anonymity. Arkin said he spoke with “over a dozen” officials and intelligence experts over the course of a three-month investigation. No named sources appear in the article.

Arkin’s sources admitted that the CIA is running a campaign of support for Ukraine based out of Poland, including a “gray fleet” of commercial aircraft shuttling weapons and other material through central and eastern Europe. CIA agents also “went into and out of Ukraine on secret missions, to assist with the operations of new weapons and systems,” but always tried to “avoid direct confrontation with Russian troops.”

“Is the CIA on the ground inside Ukraine? Yes, but it’s also not nefarious,” said another senior intelligence officer, who framed it as part of a Biden administration effort to “keep Americans out of harm’s way and reassure Russia that it doesn’t need to escalate.”

The problem appears to be that Ukraine is not following Biden’s “rules,” however. Newsweek blames Kiev for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, the Kerch Bridge bombing, and the drone attacks on Russian air bases and the Kremlin. These attacks have “raised questions” as to whether the CIA knows enough about Ukrainian plans “to both influence them and to adhere to their secret agreement with Moscow.”

The agency is now “as uncertain about Vladimir Zelensky’s thinking and intentions as it is about [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s,” the article claims.

Read more: CIA sees Ukraine crisis as unique ‘opportunity’

“The CIA learned with the attack on the Crimean Bridge that Zelensky either didn’t have complete control over his own military or didn’t want to know of certain actions,” according to the anonymous military intelligence official.

Meanwhile, Zelensky himself directly contradicted Arkin’s article two days before it was published. “We don’t have any secrets from the CIA,” he told CNN on Monday, commenting on a recent visit to Kiev by the agency’s director.