The CIA has been overseeing a secret training program for Ukrainian special operations forces and intelligence operatives since 2015, Yahoo News reported on Thursday, citing five former intelligence and national security officials.
One former CIA official said the US is “training an insurgency” in Ukraine and that the program teaches the Ukrainians how “to kill Russians,” although other officials downplayed the training and said it was not meant for offensive purposes.
The training has been held at an undisclosed base in the southern United States. It was started by the Obama administration, was expanded by President Trump, and further expanded by President Biden. The program includes training in firearms, camouflage techniques, land navigation, and other areas, former officials told Yahoo.
The program was overseen by the CIA’s Ground Branch, the spy agency’s elite paramilitary unit. The Yahoo report said by 2015, Ground Branch personnel were deployed to the front in eastern Ukraine to advise the Ukrainian forces.
In comments to Yahoo, the CIA denied that it has been training a Ukrainian insurgency. But The New York Times reported on Friday that the US is considering supporting an insurgency in Ukraine if Russia invades.
For months now, the US has been claiming Russia is planning to invade Ukraine, an accusation Moscow strongly denies. Russia held talks this week with the US and NATO on Ukraine and other issues, but little progress was made.