CIA's Ukrainian Bases Hang in Balance Amid Funding Deadlock

Written by Camilla Jessen

Feb.26 - 2024 2:06 PM CET

The CIA's network of bases in Ukraine, pivotal for intelligence operations against Russia, faces uncertainty as $61 billion in aid is stalled by Republican opposition.

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The New York Times reports that a vital network of CIA bases in Ukraine faces jeopardy these bases face if Republicans continue to block the proposed $61 billion in aid for Kyiv.

Established over a decade of building relationships, this network has become indispensable for Ukraine's military operations, especially as Russia steps up its offensive efforts.

This network of bases enables crucial intelligence activities. It aids the Ukrainian military in tracking Russian spy satellites and eavesdropping on Russian commanders, playing a vital role in Ukraine's defense and strategic operations against Russia.

Deepening Ties and Strategic Importance

The significance of the CIA's presence in Ukraine became more pronounced in 2015 when then-President Petro Poroshenko appointed Valeriy Kondratiuk to lead Ukraine's military intelligence. The appointment marked a turning point in US-Ukraine intelligence cooperation, which had been cautious initially due to fears of provoking Russia after the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution.

By 2016, the relationship had evolved to a point where the CIA agreed to assist in modernizing Ukraine's military intelligence capabilities in exchange for valuable intelligence from Ukraine. This cooperation was based on a clear understanding that the CIA's assistance would not extend to conducting lethal operations.

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 further solidified this partnership, as his administration, known for its hawkish stance on Russia, supported the deepening of intelligence ties between the two countries.

This period saw Ukraine emerging as "an intelligence-gathering hub that intercepted more Russian communications than the C.I.A. station in Kyiv could initially handle," according to the NYT.

The CIA's commitment to Ukraine was demonstrated vividly before and after Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. A small cadre of CIA officers remained in the country, relocating to a safer location in western Ukraine when the invasion intensified. They returned to Kyiv within weeks of Russia's withdrawal from the region in April 2022.

However, the looming uncertainty over the $61 billion aid package has raised concerns among Ukrainian intelligence officials about the possibility of the CIA scaling back its support.

Memories of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan loom large, fostering fears of abandonment. "It happened in Afghanistan before," a senior Ukrainian officer told the NYT.