Did the CIA Train Ukrainian Torturers?

Lucas Leiroz
Dutch journalist Sonja van den Ende in Donbass
© Photo : Sonja van den Ende

Western media accuse Russia of perpetrating war crimes in Ukraine and committing human rights violations against civilians and prisoners. However, these same agencies are absolutely silent in the face of the evident practices of torture by Kiev’s agents against their enemies, which, curiously, present several similarities with the already known torture techniques applied by the CIA, according to a recent report by a journalist. The matter raises suspicions about a possible “instruction” that would be transmitted by American intelligence to Ukrainian neo-Nazis on “how to torture”.

On May 6, a meeting was held at the United Nations Security Council in order to discuss topics concerning the war crimes committed by Kiev against the population of Donbass during the eight years of conflict. Various evidence was presented, showing that such crimes are real and constitute indeed a serious problem in the region. The proofs included photos, videos, oral testimonies from residents of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as many other materials collected by journalists on the ground.

One of the journalist team’s leaders is the Dutch independent reporter Sonja van den Ende, who categorically claims that there is irrefutable evidence of the collaboration between Ukrainian official forces and neo-Nazi battalions in the execution of such crimes, showing that the practice is institutionalized and not restricted to isolated paramilitary groups. She also states that, despite the material presented, some Western countries – mainly US, UK, and France – showed an “arrogant” attitude, being disrespectful to the delicacy of the subject and ignoring the evidence of suffering of the people of Donbass, as well as despising the work of journalists.

These were some of her words:

“I participated in the UN Security Council Arria-Formula meeting on 6 May 2022 (…) The goal of this meeting was to present to the United Nations (UN) members evidence about war crimes committed by the Ukrainian Army in cooperation with the Azov Battalion which was provided by us, journalists on the ground, in Donbass. The evidence was presented in the form of videos and oral testimonies, from residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, especially Mariupol, Volnovakha and Melitiopol (…) [However] They (Western countries) completely ignored us and didn’t ask any questions (…) I personally made some remarks at the end of the meeting. I asked them if they want WWIII and why they don’t listen to us, the journalists, who are working on the ground”.

More than simply ignoring the gravity of the facts, the representatives of the Western powers even tried to deny the irrefutable evidence of such crimes. Rodney Hunter, political coordinator for the US Mission to the United Nations, claimed that Russia was “misusing” the Council’s functions and “spewing falsehoods, disinformation, lies and false narratives”. He ignored the fact that the accusations were not simply “made by Russia” but corroborated by an international team of journalists.

In fact, this Western attitude was already expected by all analysts who study the Ukrainian case. Silence and disdain have already become central hallmarks of the way Kiev’s allies deal with the countless evidence of war crimes, genocide and torture committed by the Ukrainian armed forces and Russophobic neo-Nazi militias. Russia has been trying to resolve the case in international instances for a long time, but without success, as is the case with the lawsuit filed within the European Court and ignored by the judges. The impossibility of peaceful resolution was one of the reasons why the military operation became inevitable.

What seems most shocking, however, is the fact that the reports pointed out by Van den Ende states as a conclusion that there is a similarity in practices between the acts of torture witnessed in the Donbass and those practiced by US agents in other parts of the world. Some of the journalists who participated in the investigations in Donbass, including Sonja herself, had previously participated in similar activities elsewhere, investigating crimes of torture committed by Americans. These professionals see an extreme similarity of practices in both cases and believe that this is not a mere coincidence.

The Dutch journalist stated that the torture techniques she saw practiced in a secret Ukrainian prison in Mariupol are strikingly similar to those practiced by the CIA in clandestine detention sites around the world. These techniques include acts of extreme violence, such as the so-called “enhanced interrogations”, where the interrogated are physically hurt in order to give information – a practice that was already confirmed by the US Senate, in 2014, to have been used by the CIA against prisoners.

Furthermore, Van den Ende claims that she has found evidence that Ukrainian neo-Nazis practice the so-called “waterboarding”, a drowning technique that is also widely used by the CIA, which leads her to believe that the Azov Battalion and other Ukrainian nationalist militias have been specifically trained by the Americans on “how to torture” their detainees.

Considering the high level of proximity between US intelligence and Ukrainian neo-Nazis, it does not seem surprising that the US has in fact operated some sort of clandestine training, teaching torture techniques considered “efficient”. What is surprising is that international organizations remain silent in the face of such an absurd fact. Something so serious cannot in any way be ignored: sanctions must be applied against the US for its connivance with Ukrainian crimes in Donbass.


Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant., researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

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