October 28, 2023—On Breaking Points, a spinoff of the Rising podcast, two reporters Ryan Grim, Washington Bureau Chief for The Intercept, and Saagar Enjeti, neither of them notable profiles in courage, looked both ways, judged the coast to be clear, and filed a report on Oct. 24.
They discussed an Oct. 23 Washington Post article regarding CIA training of “Ukrainian secret teams.” The two reporters expressed their amazement that the Washington Post had confirmed what had long been expected by many journalists, namely, that Ukrainian reports of their special operations activities, which involved sabotage inside Russia, and included targetted assassinations of opponents of Ukraine, involved units that had been organized, trained and otherwise supported by the CIA. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion, which includes their shock at what they are, in fact, reporting.
Saagar Enjeti: … It’s just amazing to me, these confirmations—things that everybody knows is probably true, but not officially true…. Years later [what comes in is] … some of the most shocking news—shocking, in that it’s not surprising, but if you would have known this at the time, you would’ve been absolutely stunned.
This is from an Oct. 23 article in The Washington Post, “Ukrainian Spies with Deep Ties to CIA Wage Shadow War Against Russia”:
“The missions have involved elite teams of Ukrainian operatives, drawn from directorates that were formed, trained and equipped in close partnership with the CIA, according to current and former Ukrainian and U.S. officials.
“Since 2015, the CIA has spent tens of millions of dollars to transform Ukraine’s Soviet-formed services into potent allies against Moscow, officials said. The agency has provided Ukraine with advanced surveillance systems, trained recruits at sites in Ukraine as well as the United States, built new headquarters for departments in Ukraine military intelligence agency, and shared intelligence on a scale that would have been unimaginable before Russia illegally annexed Crimea, and fomented a separatist war in eastern Ukraine. The CIA maintains a significant present in Kyiv, officials said.”
This is official confirmation, basically, that the Ukrainian kill squads behind the assassinations, including of Dugina, the daughter of [Alexander Dugin]—how do you describe him?—a political supporter of the war in Ukraine … and then also the team that was very likely behind the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines, was formed, trained and equipped by the CIA.
Now, on the one hand, it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. As we all remember, the New York Times, you know, [had a] focus story: “Ukrainian Group Behind Nord Stream Pipeline Bombing” Oh, really? This group that just happened to get special boats, training, and patriots—where did their money come from? Amazing, right? It’s only a couple of intelligence services in the whole world that are capable of this, and one of ’em certainly ain’t Ukraine. So, I wonder where they got that from. They were like, “we believe outside groups helped advise them,” and everyone—the literal meme on the Internet at the time was, “outside group equals CIA.”
Now it’s just out there; it’s direct confirmation. What was shocking to me is, not just the direct operational involvement—bringing these people over and training them. It just shows me once again: people do not comprehend. The Ukrainian war is a U.S. war. We are paying all their bills. We are giving them all of their weapons. They are doing the fighting. We are doing the planning, the paying, all of the things [as if they were a] real nation-state. And on the intelligence side, sure—you know, maybe they’re [the CIA] the ones who are technically pressing the button to kill some of these dissidents, and all that. But every single one of their bills, all of their training, all of their software, all of their equipment—it’s all coming from us. The extent to which America is directly backstopping this entire thing is shocking still to me, and I know it to be true. The average person on the street, even people who say, “I support Ukraine”—they have no clue.
The podcast reporters then provide a useful chart, comparing the Ukrainian offensive to other offensives of the past 100 years in Europe. They show that the Ukrainian offensive has gained the least ground of any offensive in 90 years.
Enjeti reports on the existence of various damage assessments and other reports which run contrary to the official narrative coming from the Ukrainian military; these reports were all given to the Ukrainians, who were afraid to report for fear of undermining the Ukraine cause: “We [the U.S.] were running all the most basic levels of operations, at a military-tactical level, for the entire Ukrainian military. I didn’t sign up for that. Nobody signed up for that. We didn’t even know it was happening.”
Ryan Grim referred to remarks from a senior Israeli official, unnamed by him, who was asked why the ground offensive had not yet been launched. “The official said, ‘Look, the United States asked us not to.’ “And he said,” ‘They are funding and equipping the entire thing. What do you want me to do? Say no?’ “It’s the same situation in Ukraine. We’re funding, equipping, guiding, and directing the entire thing.” Grim did not supply the source of the quote.
The Ukraining offensive as shown on the chart, is “historically awful.” It’s from Georgetown CSIS. The graphic shows the rates of advance for selective European “combined armed offensives” with no air power. They therefore had to go back to World War I. It shows that the rates of advance for troops in World War I were better than those of Ukraine. The current advance per day for Ukraine is 90 meters/day. The last time a rate of gain was so low was 1916, the Battle of the Somme. The Leningrad counteroffensive against the Nazis, one of the most horrific battles in history, saw 1,000 meters advance per day.
Grim pointed out that “Those counteroffensives produced generations of people with PTSD, for the people lucky enough to survive them, which was not a large amount. And it reshaped entire cultural attitudes toward war, toward life itself. And to have encouraged, armed, equipped, trained, and directed this, with all of the forecasts that this is precisely what would happen … the Russian fortifications, with drones, the trenches, are clearly impenetrable, at this point. And that was when the U.S. was shipping all its weapons there! Now, we’re shipping half of them somewhere else.”
Neither of these reporters, however, dared to criticize the Israeli offensive against Hamas, although Grim has recently done so for The Intercept. Their intent seemed more devoted to arguing why the needs of Israel and the needs of Ukraine should in no way be conflated or conjoined in a single funding allocation. Yesterday, newly anointed Speaker of the House Michael Johnson (R-LA) told Sean Hannity of Fox News that he intends to separate the various parts of the White House’s $100 Billion aid request for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the southern U.S. border, saying that the White House needed to do a better job of explaining where the previous aid to Ukraine has gone and what the requested $61 billion in new aid for Ukraine is expected to accomplish.