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10 Feb, 2023 16:39

Pentagon seeking to resume top-secret programs in Ukraine – WaPo

Local operatives may be hired and overseen by US Special Operations troops, the paper reports
Pentagon seeking to resume top-secret programs in Ukraine – WaPo

The US Department of Defense is trying to convince lawmakers to fund two top-secret programs in Ukraine, which were put on hold after Russia launched its military operation in the country last year, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

If the Pentagon gets its way, the operations involving US Special Forces could resume in 2024, the newspaper claimed.

The Post, citing unnamed current and former US officials, alleged that the schemes in question would allow US commandos to employ Ukrainian operatives to “observe Russian military movements and counter disinformation.”

It said the programs are considered to be a form of “irregular warfare” intended for use against adversaries with whom Washington is not engaged in a military conflict.

While the Pentagon has already begun preparing its case for the resumption of these operations, Congress is unlikely to make a decision on the matter before the fall of 2023, the paper reported. 

The article also noted that a big question mark remains over whether the Biden administration would allow US commandos to actually reestablish a physical presence in Ukraine to oversee surrogates’ activities. 

According to the Post, American special operations forces could end up having to oversee activities from a neighboring country – a format they have reportedly become accustomed to in recent years. 

However, it is unknown whether lawmakers will give the programs a green light as a number of critics remain unconvinced, the article claimed. Some of these are reportedly concerned that such operations may risk dragging the US deeper into the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

“What started as a reconnaissance mission can quickly turn into combat when the surrogates start getting shot at,” one official told reporters on condition of anonymity. They went on to add that it is not clear “how the [defense] department is going to change people in Congress’ minds about that.”

Representatives of the Senate and House Armed Services committees, as well as the White House and the Pentagon, declined to comment, citing the programs’ classified status, the Post reported.

Since the start of the military conflict between Moscow and Kiev, Washington has pledged to support Kiev with arms, money and other forms of assistance “for as long as it takes” to defeat Russia strategically. Moscow, meanwhile, has called the conflict a proxy war waged against it by Washington and its allies to preserve Western dominance.