How the CIA Built the Ukrainian Army

In 2014, CIA paramilitaries traveled to eastern Ukraine as fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces began in the Donbas region. They were initially sent to test the Ukrainians’ “backbone,” to see if they could fight.

Training the Ukrainian army: Before the CIA’s arrival, the Ukrainians were almost incompetent. The CIA’s training focused on operational planning, marksmanship, operating high-tech military weapons, creating secure lines for communication, and other war tactics.

  • They believed that their role was justified because “there was a school of thought that the Russians spoke the good old language of proxy war.”

Paramilitaries: The CIA’s training wasn’t limited to the official army. They also trained forces in Ukraine that would serve as “insurgent leaders.” This happened roughly when Congress sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Ukraine for military support.

  • The funding was explicitly allowed to go to Ukraine’s far-right neo-Nazi militia, the Azov Battalion.

Big picture: The CIA’s eight-year-long training of Ukraine’s military “cannot be overestimated” and established a strong core. This brings into question America’s role, motive, and strategy regarding the current Ukraine-Russia conflict. Is this a proxy war?