Operation Belladonna: CIA Involvement in Ukranian Nationalism

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NOTE: To decode CIA Terms & Cryptonyms, use a Research Aid.

If we analyze publicly available declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency, we can learn quite a bit about the United States and its role in the historical development of Ukrainian Nationalism. To view the February 2022 Russia-Ukraine conflict, in isolation, would be a mistake.

In a declassified CIA document outlining the details of Operation Belladonna, we can see the United States had already made contact with Ukrainian Nationalists that were keen to ally with the Americans against the USSR, primarily through influencing the development of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR). The subject discussed in the document was used to gather intelligence on the USSR and Soviet operations both at home and abroad.
Later on in the document, we can see the known affiliations of the UHVR that the CIA was aware of, specifically the Bandera & Melnyk factions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), in addition to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)The document goes on to outline the scale of the UHVR apparatus, noting how many countries its members are stationed in and the extent of suggested reports.
> As the CIA expanded its operations in Ukraine, additional projects came to light, Notably, Project AERODYNAMIC (formerly CARTEL, ANDROGEN, AECARTHAGE), which operated between the years of 1949-1970 before being reclassified under Project named QRDYNAMIC in 1970 and later PDDYNAMIC in 1974, and finally QRDYNAMIC/QRPLUMB (formerly AEBEEHIVE) as it operated until 1991.

There are thousands of documents that contain sensitive information regarding these project names and the activities involved. A treasure trove of United States history that seems to have gone under the radar of the mainstream press. Declassified documents from 1950 reveal one of the initial project outlines for CARTEL.
As we can see, by the 1950s, the CIA had successfully established a network for counter intelligence with Ukrainian underground nationalists. Under Project CARTEL, it is worth noting that each document refers to a list of subjects by the name Cartel-1, Cartel-2, and so on…
If we refer to our Research Aid, we can decipher some of the code names to understand who the CIA initially worked with during this project and what their cryptonyms were.

Ivan HriniochMykola Lebed, are a few of the subjects within CARTEL that play a significant role throughout other declassified documents. In this specific document, it outlines their involvement along with other CARTEL members with regards to setting up communication channels and procurement of weaponry. The document goes on to outline a supply list for the different CARTEL members, along with the item name and associated costs.

In a 1966 declassified document, we can see the noted objective of AERODYNAMIC at that time. It notes that the underlying objective is ‘Nationalist flare-ups’ in widely scattered areas of the Soviet Union, particularly in Ukraine. The document goes on to outline the usage of anti-Soviet emigres in collaboration with the ZP/UHVR to achieve their aims. We can see a reappearance of Ivan Hrinioch and Mykola Lebed as well, though in this document they are under different cryptonyms.
One interesting piece of information in this document is the admission that ZP/UHVR clandestine activities conducted through the Prolog Research and Publishing Association, Inc in New York. AECASSOWARY-2 aka, Mykola Lebed, appointed as the president of Prolog, becoming the principal agent of Project AERODYNAMIC.
The operations were not just isolated to New York. Another declassified document reveals some additional objectives of Project AERODYNAMIC, one of which is to utilize broadcast time available on the KUBARK (Cryptonym for CIA) radio station in Athens, Greece. Its operation was intended to deliver communications to multiple groups, namely the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and members of the Indigenous populations to maintain a national consciousness, and to encourage pride in the heritage and individuality of their culture.

Along with the stoking of nationalist tendencies, the document also revealed clear intentions to create dissatisfaction amongst Ukrainian military personnel against the USSR.
Image In case there were any further questions with regards to the CIA’s involvement and development of Ukrainian nationalism, we can look no further than a document from 1958 which reveals quote:

I emphasized that the main rationale of our support of the AECASSOWARY’s was to have a foothold in the whole subject of Ukrainian nationalism in order to be able to exploit it in various parts of the world, with ultimate targeting, of course, at the Ukrainian SSR.
It is important to note that there are many projects that operate in tandem along side Project AERODYNAMIC. CAPELIN is one of them. The area of operations for CAPELIN were Munich, Germany, where its first noted primary aim is counter espionage information on CASSOWARIES and CAVATINAS subjects. If we reference our Research Aid, we can see who these subjects are, one of them a cryptonym for Stefan Bandera.
The document illustrates that one of the project subjects, CAPELIN, was recruited as early as 1946. The document goes on to reveal intricate details about the project’s estimated cost, special equipment, cover, etc…

The principal agent of this project is being noted as a Counterintelligence/Counterespionage informant which they note has provided valuable information on Ukrainian emigre organizations, personalities, and intelligence agencies from many different countries. An interesting part of this document is another admission of intent to take advantage of nationalistic tendencies.

His penetration of the SB has been of particular value to the CE section by providing net only information on ZCh/OUN activities but also an opportunity to direct or influence those activities in certain insances.
Although this article only covers a miniscule portion of declassified documents from the CIA, it is important to note that these projects define half a century of support for Ukrainian nationalism, and there are still thousands more to analyze.

The role the United States played in the historical development of Ukrainian nationalism, with all of its ugly side effects, should be examined closely. The massive collective effort of the internet can surely shed more light on this history.
Front page of New York Times newspaper February 24, 2022

The Invasion of Ukraine

In late February 2022, the Russian Federation announced a military operation in-which its aims were the complete ‘demilitarization’ and ‘denazification’ of Ukraine. President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, alongside the announcement of a military operation, recognized the independence of the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Almost immediately after the military operation, western media began publishing a barrage of opinion pieces and articles that attempted to push back on the claim President Putin made regarding ‘denazification.’

Article after article painted the picture of Putin exaggerating the claims of Ukrainian nationalism fermenting neo-Nazi ideologies. If one has only learned about the country of Ukraine in 2022, it would be easy to take this barrage of information at face value.
Screenshots of Washington Post, Politico, NPR, and MSNBC headlines

Before the Invasion

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, western media seemed to have the complete opposite point of view with regards to the question of Neo-Nazi & Nationalistic tendencies within the Ukrainian populace. It appeared the mainstream press were well aware of Ukraine’s problem with white supremacy and nationalism prior to February 2022. For instance, Time Magazine reported on how a far-right white supremacist militia relies on social media to train and recruit members. In another article, The Nation reported on the rise of Neo-Nazis in the region as early as 2019.
Western Media before Feb. 2022: TNE TIMEJ ur ISKACL Far-Right Fighters From Europe Fight For Ukraine OHAARETZ Dec. 27, 2018 Ukraine celebrates Nazi collaborator, bans book critical of pogroms leader Ukraine Designates National Holiday Britons join neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine to Commemorate Nazi Collaborator 2 MAR 2018 UK facing surging and constantly evolving' threat from far-right terrorism, watchdog warns AUGUST 11, 2014 GUEST CONTRIBUTOR 2 COMMENTS State agencies have declared January la commemoration day for WWII A nationalist Stepan Bandera E Kiev's far-right groups refuse to disarm Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine FEBRUARY 22, 2019 Atlantic Council Les néonazis ukrainiens sont soutenus par des Sulsses. TU ATING OUR Goth ANNIVERSARY UkraineAlert | June 20, 2018 Ukraine's Got a Real Problem with Far- Right Violence (And No, RT Didn't Write This Headline) Flaga UA z symbolami nazistowskimi w rekach członków Misanthropic Division. Fot. vk.com FBI: Neo-Nazi Militia Trained by US Military in Ukraine Now Training US White Supremacists Nazi symbols, salutes on display at Ukrainian nationalist march Hundreds march in Ukraine in annual tribute to Nazi collaborator Violent Anti-Semitism bellingcat Yes, It's (Still) OK To Call Ukraine's C14 “Neo-Nazi" 5 Mar 2014 How the far-right took top posts in Ukraine's power vacuum August 9, 2019 Is Gripping Ukraine - And The Government Is Standing Idly By Ukrainian neo-Nazi C14 vigilantes drive out Roma families, burn their camp By Lev Golinkin May 20, 2018 A30B Ukraine conflict: 'White DDO A New Eurasian Far Right Rising: Freedom THouse Reflections on Ukraine, Georgia, and Armenia Ukraine's far-right menace POLITICC power' warrior from Sweden BOEST BBC Home News Sport Reel Worklife Ukraine underplays role of far right in conflict With Axes And Hammers, Far- OTVNEWS Right Vigilantes Destroy Another Romany Camp In Kyiv Ukraine conflict: Child soldiers join the fight Far-right extremists in Ukrainian military bragged about Canadian training, report says New 'Glory to Ukraine' army chant invokes nationalist past A new slogan adopted by the Ukrainian army has drawn criticism for its links to World War II-era nationalist groups. The decision has sparked a debate about how the country should address its history. JUGEN Who Was Stepan Bandera? German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers 308 gisandet 2lioanthropic Division "Defend the White Race": American Extremists Being Co-Opted by Ukraine's Far-Right THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY Far-Right Group Made Its Home in Ukraine's Major Western Military Training Hub Ukraine Western Media after Feb. 2022: "SLAVA UKRAINI!"N 卍 Stepan Bandera Product Font Publication People

In fact, the prominence of Neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine was such a widely reported topic within the western media, they received a barrage of memes targeted at them, poking fun at their sudden change in narrative. Of course Russians themselves took part in the fun as reported by The Guardian.

The Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who enjoys prodding foreign media, wrote a “request to the mass disinformation outlets of the USA and Britain – Bloomberg, the New York Times, the Sun etc – announce the schedule of our ‘invasions’ for the coming year. I’d like to plan my vacation”.

A day earlier, she wrote: “February 15, 2022 will go down in history as the day of the failure of western war propaganda. Humiliated and destroyed without firing a shot.” Source: The Guardian

The Azov Battalion

AZOV logo.svg Ukraine has a multitude of battalions at their disposal within the National Guard or SBU. A lot of attention surrounding the Neo-Nazi topic of Ukraine is centered on the Azov Battalion. The Azov Battalion is an officially recognized unit of the National Guard of Ukraine and has been at the center of a lot of media controversy since the 2014 Maidan protests. It is clear that the west, primarily the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, are putting their support behind Ukraine during Russia’s military operation. How far does this support go?

In 2014, then Senator John McCain visited Ukraine to reaffirm the United State’s commitment to the Ukrainian project. Not only has the United States been a valuable supporter of Ukraine, but its neighbor, Canada, has also offered its assistance in the training of Ukrainian Neo-Nazis. As James Carden from The Nation wrote in 2016, the United States government revoked a ban on funding Neo-Nazis from its year-end spending bill.

The Contradiction

The western media was attempting to frame a narrative in-which President Putin was exaggerating, or lying, about his claims of Neo-Nazis atrocities in Ukraine, fueled by the continued rise of nationalism. We end up with a contradiction where the west claims it has no clue, or denies entirely, the rise of Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, while these very same outlets have reported extensively on the rise of Neo-Nazis in Ukraine in the past.

If we only look at the past decade, we can see the west supported and continues to support nationalists in Ukraine. If we step back even further, we can see the past decade is only a drop in the bucket compared to half a century of continued support from the United States, and all of the atrocities that followed.