A decadelong secret partnership between the CIA and Ukraine has been critical for lethal operations against Russia: NYT

  • Ten years ago, the CIA cautiously partnered with Ukraine to help gather intelligence on Russia.

  • The agency initially made clear that it would not help Ukraine conduct lethal operations, per NYT.

  • Those boundaries have since been removed since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the report said.

Ukraine has relied on a decadelong secret partnership with the CIA to gather critical Russian intelligence and, more recently, carry out lethal operations during the war, according to a new report from The New York Times.

The partnership, which can be traced back to February 2014, has provided Ukraine with intelligence-gathering training, communications equipment, and, in the past eight years, a network of spy bases built along the Russian border, the report said.

A CIA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

The partnership began during a crisis year for Ukraine when the country's pro-Kremlin president, Viktor Yanukovych, had just been ousted, and Russia would soon annex Crimea.

According to the Times report, Ukraine's Security Service head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, first sought the assistance of the CIA and Britain's MI6 to rebuild the country's intelligence agency on February 24, 2014 — exactly eight years before Russia invaded Ukraine.

"That's how it all started," Nalyvaichenko told The Times.

After realizing that Ukraine's intelligence agency could be an asset to the US, the CIA agreed to support Ukraine, which initially came in the form of communications supply and training, the Times report said.

But the spy agency also had misgivings about the partnership, partly because it did not want to cross a boundary that would provoke Russia. The CIA made clear that it would not help Ukraine carry out lethal operations against its adversary, the Times reported.

"We made a distinction between intelligence collection operations and things that go boom," a former senior US official told the Times.

Those boundaries have since been abandoned after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, according to the report.

The Biden Administration greenlighted the CIA to provide intelligence critical for Ukraine's lethal operations against Russia, the report said.

Some of the intelligence included when exactly Russian forces planned to attack six Ukrainian cities and assassination plans against top Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to the report.

"Are they pulling triggers? No," a senior US official told The Times of the CIA's role in Ukraine. "Are they helping with targeting? Absolutely."

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