Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ukraine Flashback: KGB Plan to Use American Support of Ukrainian Guerrillas to Discredit CIA Director

The folks at the Wilson Center have once again come up with a fascinating document from previously Top Secret Soviet files. This one highlights how Washington-Moscow tensions in Eastern Europe have been going on for decades, including in Ukraine.  This history provides important context to today's news from the region.

The 1960 document concerns a global plan by KGB chief Alexander Shelepin to discredit CIA Director Allen Dulles; it came a month after the embarrassing U-2 incident in which an American spy plan was shot down over the Soviet Union and its pilot captured.

Aside from spy flights, Dulles had also supported guerrilla warfare against Soviet occupiers in several Eastern European countries -- including in places such as Ukraine and Poland, where the guerrilla's side eventually won, but whose leaders must still fear Moscow.

The KGB plan included dirty tricks and propaganda efforts across the world, from planting false news stories in Japan to making claims that US intelligence was working with Israeli spies in the Middle East.

One of the plots involved exposing the KGB's penetration of CIA-supported guerrillas in Ukraine. After World War 2, anti-communist Ukrainian guerrillas killed an estimated 15-30,000 Soviet occupation troops and their local supporters. But the KGB had penetrated the resistance organizations (and those in other communist-occupied countries) and in 1959 killed Ukrainian leader Stefan Bandera with a cyanide gun. [See our declassified documents on the assassination of Bandera here and the guerrilla war in Ukraine here.]

The excerpts below are from the Top Secret June 7, 1960, KGB plan. See the complete document at the Wilson Center site. Please leave comments if you know whether and how the KGB carried out this plan and its subplots...

The failure of the intelligence action prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the plane “Lockheed U-2” caused an aggravation of existing tensions between the CIA and other USA intelligence services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and also provoked protests by the American public and certain members of the Congress, who are demanding investigation of the CIA activities.

The Committee of state security considers it advisable to make use of this newly complex situation and to carry out the following measures targeted at further discrediting CIA activity and compromising its leader Allen DULLES:
b) to agree with Polish friends about the exposure of the operational game led by the organs of the KGB along with the MSS PPR [Ministry of State Security of the Polish People’s Republic] with a “conduit” on the payroll of American intelligence of the Organization of Ukrainian nationalists (OUN)- “Melnikovists.” To this end to bring back to Poland the Polish MSS agent “Boleslav,” planted in the course of this game on the OUN “conduit,” and to arrange for him to speak to the press and radio about subversive activity by American intelligence against the USSR and PPR. To arrange, in addition, for public appearances by six American intelligence agents dropped on USSR and PPR territory as couriers of the “conduit” in the course of the game.

7. To work out measures which, upon implementation, would demonstrate the failure of the CIA efforts to actively on a concrete factual basis use various émigré centers for subversive work against countries in the socialist camp.

In particular, using the example of the anti-Soviet organization “The Union of the Struggle for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia” (SBONR), to discredit in the eyes of American taxpayers the activities of American intelligence in funding émigré organizations. To bring to light, along with other measures, real or forged American intelligence documents on its finances and guidance of subversive activities of the SBONR.

German U-boats in New York Harbor

The German submarine glided through the icy water past New York City, its captain noting the glowing skyscrapers of Manhattan and then Coney Island’s brilliantly-lit Ferris wheel.  Soon his lookouts spotted a large oil tanker, steaming ahead without escort. Maneuvering into position, the captain easily acquired his target, framed by the city’s lights, and fired a torpedo into the vessel, sending a fireball into the sky worthy of America’s most dazzling city.
It was January 1942, the beginning of one of America’s most important, and underappreciated, campaigns to defend the homeland. Peak operations would continue – below, on and above the seas from Florida to New England – through the summer, influencing the fate of World War II and interring ships and sailors from several countries in watery graves off what are now some of America’s most popular beaches and harbors.
This is the gripping story told in Ed Offley’s newest book, The Burning Shore: How Hitler’s U-Boats Brought World War II to America (Basic Books, 2014). 
While the circumstances of this battle are unique, the oft competing roles played by bureaucratic infighting, intelligence collection, combat leadership and blind luck will be familiar to students of America’s most recent conflicts.
The German submarine, or “U-boat,” threat of early 1942 certainly came as no surprise to America’s political and military leadership. Indeed, the U.S. Navy and German subs had joined battle months earlier, even before war was declared, when President Roosevelt ordered the Navy to protect allied shipping.
When official hostilities began, top brass recognized the “imminent probability of submarine attack” along the East Coast, thanks in large part to British intelligence. Yet the admirals failed to respond effectively. See our review at Real Clear History...