Espionage: secret aid to Ukraine

Status: 05/19/2022 06:19

In addition to weapons, Ukraine also receives intelligence information from the West. Nothing is said about this secret support – as it has so far been considered a great success.

There is a lot of symbolism in the photo hanging on the wall in the office of Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov. The painting shows an owl holding a bat in its claws. The owl is the heraldic animal of Budanov’s troops, the bat is the symbol of the enemy, the Russian military intelligence service GRU. The message of the image is not that Vladimir Putin’s spies are the hunters, they are the prey.

Florian Flade

Russia’s war against Ukraine is also a war of espionage. For weeks, the Ukrainian armed forces have been fiercely resisting the Russian invaders. They are supported by Western states not only with weapons, ammunition, equipment, training and supplies, but also with intelligence information.

Above all, the United States and Great Britain, but also other NATO countries, support the Ukrainian troops with their secret services. They provide satellite images, help with electronic reconnaissance, intercept Russian radio messages or warn of impending air raids. Computer experts from Britain’s interception service GCHQ have also been helping Ukraine defend against Russian cyberattacks for months.

intelligence success

No matter how large the foreign service aid, how concrete it looks and what it achieves, there is public silence as a matter of principle. In US intelligence circles, however, they are already talking about one of the greatest intelligence successes of all, comparable to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the hunt for top terrorist Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.

“We will regularly and will continue to provide Ukrainians on the battlefield with detailed and timely intelligence to help them defend their country against Russian aggression,” read the official White House statement on the matter in late April.

There were no further details. However, it is said that it was repeatedly the advice of the Western secret services that gave the Ukrainian army the decisive advantage – and caused considerable losses on the part of the Russian army. At least that’s what several American media recently reported.

According to New York Times research, it was US intelligence that helped the Ukrainian military kill twelve Russian generals so far. The Washington Post, on the other hand, reported that US services provided the Ukrainians with the exact coordinates of the Russian warship Moskva, which was sunk in a precise missile attack. The failure of Russian paratroopers to launch a surprise attack on Hostomel airport near kyiv in the early days of the war is believed to be due to a CIA warning for the Ukrainians.

CIA boss Burns warns

The US government is anything but enthusiastic about the reports and is clearly trying to limit the damage. A Pentagon spokesman said the United States provided Ukraine with information about the war but did not provide specific data on the whereabouts of senior Russian military officials. There is also no influence over the targets that Ukraine attacks. “To be honest, the Ukrainians have a lot more information than we do,” the spokesperson said.

CIA boss William Burns has called for secrecy regarding secret service assistance to Ukraine. During a public roundtable last week, Burns did not deny the media reports, simply saying, “It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous when people talk about intelligence matters too much, whether in private. or in public.”

The United States does not want to be part of the war

There is a very practical reason why, unlike arms deliveries, secret service cooperation is not mentioned: the services do not want to lose their sources, whether it is human access in the Russian army or even the Kremlin, or technical possibilities of Communication surveillance.

Political aspects also play a role: the more detailed information is available on the multifaceted support for Ukraine, the more the impression of a proxy war could arise. Which the United States, in particular, obviously wants to avoid, although it is undisputed that American support and years of training by American military personnel have contributed significantly to Ukraine’s military successes to date. .

The United States has already more or less secretly helped push back troops from Moscow in a similar way – successfully: in the 1980s in Afghanistan. At that time, the Soviet Union invaded the neighboring country to install a puppet communist government there. The United States and other countries then supported the Afghan insurgents, the mujahideen, with weapons. The Soviet Union became embroiled in a guerrilla war that lasted ten years and ended with the withdrawal of the Soviet army in 1989.

BND involved in Afghanistan

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) was also involved in Afghanistan at the time. In the mid-1980s, the secret operation “Summer Rain” was launched on the initiative of certain members of the Bundestag. For years, the BND has delivered relief items from Germany to the mujahideen, including jackets, boots, tents, sleeping bags, flashlights, night vision goggles, motorcycles and even field hospitals. . In return, the Afghan fighters procured the latest Soviet battlefield armaments, which were evaluated by the BND and the results made available to NATO.

Pedagogical interest for Ukraine

The federal government is keeping a low profile on current BND activities in Ukraine. A few weeks ago, during secret meetings in parliament, it was reported that no BND employee is currently active directly in the war zone, but that there is a heated exchange with the Ukrainians and other services in the region and that the service’s interest in investigating was wide-ranging and also included Russian weapons technology and equipment.

It is now considered not unlikely that the BND may soon have a residence in Kyiv again. After all, the German Embassy has recently resumed its work. When the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine began in late February, the German diplomats and spies were gone. BND chairman Bruno Kahl was visiting kyiv at the time. It was he who was the last to leave the embassy, ​​locked the door and left the country with a small number of employees in a motorcade.

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