Friday, February 28, 2014

Deposed Ukraine Prez Hints at Civil War with Reference to "Bandera Thugs," NY Times Bungles Explanation

"Mr. Yanukovych, in a news conference Friday in Rostov-on-Don,...added, 'People of Crimea don’t want to submit and they will not submit to Bandera thugs,' referring to the World War II era nationalist leader who was vilified by the Soviet Union:"

[This may be the New York Times' understatement of the day.] Ukrainian Resistance Leader Stefan (sometimes spelled "Stepan" or "Stephen") Bandera was not just "vilified" by the Soviets - he was killed by them, murdered with a cyanide gun by a KGB assassin in 1959. 

Bandera (and his "thugs") fought for Ukrainian independence against both the WWII Germans (with whom certain of his forces were said to agree on "ethnic cleansing," according to Soviet history and some Western observers) and the Soviets. After the world war Bandera was the ideological leader of a major anti-Soviet guerrilla war that Ukrainians waged against Moscow for independence (with limited help from the CIA and British intel) during the 1940s and '50s. Yanukovych's comments put his views on this important part of Ukraine's history in alignment with the Soviet/Russian historical perspective of a Ukraine under Moscow's control. The parallel is also obviously seen by the protestors, who used a "Bandera thugs" chant a few days ago.

See declassified CIA documents on the KGB plot to kill Bandera below (the weapon was designed to kill in under two minutes and leave limited evidence) and more on the Ukrainian resistance war with the Soviets here:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Battle Cry in Ukraine Evokes Past Guerrilla War, Cyanide Killings and CIA/KGB Ops

As protesters in Ukraine battle for the future of their country, they invoke the battle cry of a previous fight to free their country from Moscow's influence.

"From the stage on the square, a speaker yelled 'Glory to Ukraine!' and the crowd yelled back 'Glory to its heroes!' That echoed the slogans of the World War II-era Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army [note: UPA], guerrilla armies that battled the Nazis, Poles and Soviets in an ultimately futile quest for an independent Ukraine:" New York Times, 2/20/14.

Throughout modern history, Ukrainians have been fighting for their independence against outsiders such as the Poles, Germans and Soviets. After battling German occupiers during World War II, the Ukrainian resistance refocused once again on Moscow, which had incorporated Ukraine into the Soviet Union (and starved the nation during the 1930s.)

The battle reached its peak in the late 1940s; the Ukrainian guerrillas even developed a system of elaborate bunkers across parts of the nation. See an excellent 2012 thesis on this conflict by a Ukrainian officer at the US Army Command and General Staff College here:

Then, as now, anti-Russian sentiment was strongest in Ukraine's west. By 1950 Soviet counterinsurgency tactics had turned the tide (reports claim Soviet tactics included special units that impersonated resistance fighters and then brutalized the local population.) Significant resistance attacks ended by about 1957. By some estimates, the guerrillas killed 15-30,000 Soviets and Ukrainian sympathizers. The toll to resistance fighters and their networks was much higher. The Soviet KGB also worked to snuff out external support for Ukrainian independence with tactics that included assassinating exiled leaders with a cyanide gun (see below).

CIA Work with Ukrainian Resistance: Operation "Aerodynamic"

The CIA and British intelligence followed the resistance closely and ended up supporting two different factions. Under an operation code-named "Aerodynamic," the CIA provided financial and operational support -- including airdropping agents and supporting clandestine radio broadcasts -- for Ukrainian anti-Soviet guerrillas. Although the US did not actively support Ukrainian independence, it was eager to exploit areas of Soviet weakness.

 The 1953 report below summarizes the movement and assesses the potential usefulness of the Ukrainians during a "hot war" between the US and Soviet Union. The program switched its focus to propaganda and other support outside Ukraine as the Soviets consolidated their control later in the decade. Critics have questioned the value of this operation and criticized the US government for supporting Ukrainians involved in "ethnic cleansing" and anti-semitism during World War II. 

Excerpt from CIA Report on Cyanide Gun Used to Kill Exiled Ukrainian Resistance Leader Stefan Bandera in 1959:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Claims Moscow May Ban Reports of Terrorism at Sochi Olympics: Congressional Research Service

"There are some reports that Russian authorities have ordered a media ban on reports of terrorist incidents during the Games:" claims a report from the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) made public today. [Even if true, how could they do it? N2S asks.]

The source of the reports of a ban is not clear in the document -- entitled "The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: Security and Human Rights Issues." There is also no discussion of how Moscow might enforce a media ban, especially against non-Russian media. US media outlets have publicly noted the assumption that their electronic communications are being intercepted by Russian security organizations. But there has not been widespread discussion of potential Russian control over Western media infrastructure, such as satellite and digital feeds, at the event.

Talk of a "media ban" of news on a violent incident raises the specter of the ham-handed Chinese effort to shut down Western media outlets during the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident -- in part by yanking out broadcast cables as journalists described the events.

Modern technology would make a media ban far more difficult and total suppression of the news impossible. That said, certain current tech, such as mobile phone suppression systems, could be brought to bear. Share your thoughts below on how Moscow might try to enforce a ban.

The CRS, according to its web site, "works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate...CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. Its highest priority is to ensure that Congress has 24/7 access to the nation’s best thinking."

CRS reports on generally based on "open-source" material from public hearings, officials statements and news reports. However, they sometimes reveal facts or issues not yet widely reported by the media.

Obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, the report can be read here:

The CRS report also notes a recent White House statement appeared to some observers to contain a "subtle suggestion that cooperation with Russian authorities was not as harmonious and comprehensive as it could be."

See a new map of the Sochi complex and excerpts from the report, which also contains a useful summary of terrorism threats involving the Games, below.

Excerpts from the CRS Report: "Since the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon in April 2013, the Obama Administration has maintained that U.S.-Russia counter-terrorism cooperation has increased. Some observers, however, suggest that Russian authorities resisted offers from U.S. agencies of substantial
counter-terrorism assistance to bolster security at the Games. On January 5, 2014, the state-owned
RT (Russia Times) network stated that the United States had offered such boosted aid both before
and after the terrorist incidents in Volgograd and mentioned statements by FBI Director Comey,
Defense Secretary Hagel, and the White House.

However, the article reported that 'Moscow insisted that the terrorism threat does not require any additional measures,' and referred to the statement by the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Aleksandr Zhukov, that all possible security measures already were in place in Sochi. On January 24, 2014, the Washington Post reported accounts by former FBI agents that Russia had approved only a fraction of the
personnel that the FBI had proposed to send to Russia for the Games.

On January 22, 2014, Prime Minister Medvedev stated that U.S.-Russia security cooperation for the Games was 'at a good level,' although perhaps it could have been better, he suggested. Some observers have argued that Russian security services appear unlikely to change their traditional suspicions of U.S. assistance
in the days remaining before the Games begin."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Death is Coming in the Cold

A literally and figuratively "chilling" story from our sister site Korean News details the terrible impact of cold weather on troops fighting the Korean War.

Think you're cold after this week's snowstorms?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why Do Many North Koreans Hate Americans? Example North Korean Propaganda Film

Today's headlines are filled with news of North Korea, from the execution of a senior official by 30-something dictator Kim Jong Un to the visits of US basketball player Dennis Rodman.

North Korea (also called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK) has even threatened a nuclear attack on the United States.

But many Americans do not understand why North Korean leaders seem so angry at the US. It stems from the 1950-3 Korean War, when the US and its UN allies pushed back a North Korean invasion of South Korea. North Korea, backed by China and the Soviet Union, took heavy losses.

 This wartime propaganda film from North Korea still provides important insights into the mentality of the DPRK's leaders and perceptions of the population. America is depicted as a monstrous aggressor not content to kill North Korean civilians with "saturation bombing" and napalm, burning and burying them alive, but also a country waging germ warfare (a claim later revealed as Soviet disinformation). 

These claims are taught to North Korean school children, who are instructed that America is always just one step away from invading their country. It's not clear how deep anti-American feelings are among most North Koreans. During a trip to North Korea, Need to Share News met citizens who in unguarded moments seemed less than angry, even though the US did destroy much of the country during the war. As more news from the outside reaches North Korea, its citizens are less likely to believe America is a major threat and villain. However, DPRK leaders use the fear of war to help maintain their control and its dangerous for anyone in the country not to go along.

WARNING: The film includes graphic depictions of dead GIs and North Koreans, along with burn victims and diseased patients.