This is the true story of the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement in its form today, bought and paid for by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Cynthia Chung has published chapter 5 from her newly released book ‘The Empire on Which the Black Sun Never Set: the Birth of International Fascism and Anglo-American Foreign Policy’ on Substack.
The chapter details how the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement post-WWII was bought and paid for by the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”).
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She begins by outlining a few important historical highlights – the historical roots of Ukrainian Nationalism. Beginning with the Kievan Rus’, a federation in Eastern-Northern Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century. Today’s Belarus, Russia and Ukraine all recognise the people of Kievan Rus’ as their cultural ancestors. She continues to outline the history through to the founding of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in 1929 in a place which was, at the time, located in Poland.
The OUN assassinated Polish Interior Minister Bronislaw Pieracki in 1934. Among those tried and convicted in 1936 for Pieracki’s murder, were OUN’s Stefan Bandera and Mykola Lebed. Both escaped when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. In August 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the non-aggression pact, dividing Poland. In 1940 the OUN would split into the OUN-M led by Andriy Melnyk, and OUN-B headed by Stefan Bandera.
In June 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded western Ukraine, there were many western Ukrainians who welcomed the invading Nazis as their “liberators.” Both the OUN-M and OUN-B would spend much of the war collaborating closely with the Germans.
Eight days after Germany’s invasion of the USSR, on 30 June 1941, OUN-B proclaimed the establishment of the Ukrainian State in the name of Bandera in Lviv and pledged loyalty to Hitler. In response, the OUN-B leaders and associates were arrested and imprisoned or killed outright by the Gestapo. Stefan Bandera and his closest deputy Jaroslav Stetsko were initially kept under house arrest and then sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Mykola Lebed was able to slip through the German police net and became the de facto leader of the OUN-B leadership, also known as the Banderists.
The following year Lebed would become the leader of the underground terror wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which continued in function until 1956. By September 1944 German Army officers in northern Ukraine told their superiors in Foreign Armies East that the UPA was a “natural ally of Germany” and “a valuable aid for the German High Command,” and Himmler himself authorised intensified contacts with UPA.
Also in September 1944, the Germans released Bandera and Stetsko from Sachsenhausen.
This leads into second half of Chung’s chapter 5, see below. You can read the full chapter, with references to sources included, HERE.
“[Lebed] is a well-known sadist and collaborator of the Germans” – 1947 Report by The US Army’s Counterintelligence Corps (CIC)
In July 1944 Mykola Lebed helped form the Supreme Ukrainian Liberation Council (UHVR), which would claim to represent the Ukrainian nation and served as an underground government in the Carpathian Mountains, in opposition to the Ukrainian SSR. The dominant political party in UHVR was the Bandera group and the UPA, which from that point on served as the army of UHVR and continued to fight the Soviets until 1956.
A feud erupted in 1947 between Bandera and Stetsko on one side for an independent Ukraine under a single party led by Bandera himself vs. Lebed and Father Ivan Hrynioch (chief of the UHVR Political Section) who were against Bandera being head of state.
At an August 1948 Congress of the OUN Foreign Section, Bandera (who still controlled 80% of the UHVR) expelled the Hrynioch-Lebed group. He claimed exclusive authority on the Ukrainian national movement and continued terror tactics against anti-Banderist Ukrainian leaders in Western Europe and manoeuvred for control of Ukrainian émigré organisations. However, Lebed who had become close with the Americans at that point was recognised, along with Hrynioch as the official UHVR representation abroad.
With the war lost, Lebed adopted a strategy similar to that of Reinhard Gehlen – he contacted the Allies after escaping Rome in 1945 with a trove of names and contacts of anti-Soviets located in western Ukraine and in displaced persons camps in Germany. This made him attractive to the US Army’s Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) despite their above admission in their 1947 report.
In late 1947, Lebed who it was feared would be assassinated by the Soviets in Rome, was smuggled along with his family by the CIC to Munich, Germany in December 1947 for his safety.
Norman J.W. Goda writes:
By late 1947, Lebed had thoroughly sanitised his pre-war and wartime activities for American consumption. In his own rendition, he had been a victim of the Poles, the Soviets, and the Germans – he would carry the Gestapo “wanted” poster for the rest of his life to prove his anti-Nazi credentials…He also published a 126-page booklet on the UPA, which chronicled the heroic struggle of Ukrainians against both Nazis and Bolsheviks, while calling for an independent, greater Ukraine that would represent the human ideals of free speech and free faith. The UPA, according to the booklet, never collaborated with the Nazis, nor is there any mention of the slaughter of Galician Jews or Poles in the book. The CIC considered the booklet to be the ‘complete background on the subject.’ The CIC overlooked the fact that under its own watch an OUN Congress held in September 1947 had split, thanks to Lebed’s criticism of the creeping democratisation of the OUN. This was overlooked by the CIA which began using Lebed extensively in 1948…In June 1949…the CIA smuggled him [Lebed] into the United States with his wife and daughter under the legal cover of the Displaced Persons Act. [emphasis added]
The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) began investigating Lebed and in March 1950 reported to Washington that numerous Ukrainian informants spoke of Lebed’s leading role among the “Bandera terrorists” and that during the war the Banderists were trained and armed by the Gestapo and responsible for “wholesale murders of Ukrainians, Poles and Jewish [sic]…In all these actions, Lebed was one of the most important leaders.”
In 1951, top INS officials informed the CIA of its findings along with the comment that Lebed would likely face deportation. The CIA responded on 3 October 1951, that all of the charges were false and that the Gestapo “wanted” poster of Lebed proved that he “fought with equal zeal against the Nazis and Bolsheviks.”
INS officials as a result suspended the investigation on Lebed.
In February 1952, the CIA pressed the INS to grant Lebed re-entry papers so that he could leave and re-enter the United States at will. Argyle Mackey, Commissioner of the INS, refused to grant this.
On May 5, 1952, Allen Dulles, then Assistant Director of the CIA wrote a letter to Mackey stating:
In connection with future Agency operations of the first importance, it is urgently necessary that subject [Lebed] be able to travel in Western Europe. Before [he] undertakes such travel, however, this Agency must…assure his re-entry into the United States without investigation or incident which would attract undue attentions to his activities.
What was in West Germany? General Reinhard Gehlen, former chief of the Wehrmacht Foreign Armies East military intelligence, who had been conveniently allowed to re-enter West Germany to establish his Gehlen Organisation which would later form the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service of West Germany) in 1956.
Dulles also wanted Lebed’s legal status changed to that of “permanent resident,” under Section 8 of the CIA Act of 1949. The INS never investigated further after Dulles’ letter and Lebed became a naturalised US citizen in March 1957.
Bandera would also be stationed in West Germany with his family after the war, where he remained the leader of the OUN-B and worked with several anti-communist organisations as well as with British Intelligence. At this point Bandera had become too much of a liability and there were multiple attempts, by both the Americans and British starting in 1953, to get Bandera to step down and for Lebed to represent “the entire Ukrainian liberation movement in the homeland.” Bandera refused and went rogue.
It is said that Bandera was assassinated in 1959 by a KGB agent in Munich, however, one cannot help but note that it was excellent timing and extremely beneficial for the Americans that Bandera was taken out when he was, considering what they had planned for Ukraine’s future…
Among the declassified records are that of Hoover’s FBI, who had a small trove of captured German General Staff documents from 1943 and 1944, which revealed German appreciation of the UPA’s work while mentioning Lebed by name. It appears this was never shared with any agency or institution, other than the CIA, despite requests from the INS during their investigation of Lebed.
Interestingly, Goda writes:
The full extent of his [Lebed’s] activities as ‘Foreign Minister’ [of the UHVR] may never become known, but FBI surveillance of him gives some idea. Partly, Lebed lectured at prestigious universities such as Yale on such topics as biological warfare used by the Soviet government in the Ukraine. [emphasis added]
The following is an indication as to what Dulles may have been referring to as the urgent need for Lebed’s re-entry into Western Europe.
Breitman and Goda write:
By 1947 some 250,000 Ukrainians were living…in Germany, Austria, and Italy, many of them OUN activists or sympathisers. After 1947 UPA fighters began crossing into the US zone, having reached the border on foot through Czechoslovakia.
However, Lebed was not only urgently needed in Europe, but also within the United States. Once in the United States, Lebed was selected as the CIA’s chief contact/advisor for AERODYNAMIC.
Breitman and Goda write:
AERODYNAMIC’s first phase involved infiltration into Ukraine and then exfiltration of CIA-trained Ukrainian agents. By January 1950 the CIA’s arm for the collection of secret intelligence (Office of Special Operations, OSO) and its arm for covert operations (Office of Policy Coordination, OPC) participated [author’s note: the Allen Dulles rogue faction of the CIA]…Washington was especially pleased with the high level of UPA training in the Ukraine and its potential for further guerrilla actions, and with ‘the extraordinary news that…active resistance to the Soviet regime was spreading steadily eastward, out of the former Polish, Greek Catholic provinces… [However] By 1954 Lebed’s group lost all contact with UHVR. By that time the Soviets subdued both the UHVR and UPA, and the CIA ended the aggressive phase of AERODYNAMIC.
Beginning in 1953 AERODYNAMIC began to operate through a Ukrainian study group under Lebed’s leadership in New York under CIA auspices, which collected Ukrainian literature and history and produced Ukrainian nationalist newspapers, bulletins, radio programming, and books for distribution in the Ukraine. In 1956 this group was formally incorporated as the non-profit Prolog Research and Publishing Association. It allowed the CIA to funnel funds as ostensible private donations without taxable footprints. To avoid nosey New York State authorities, the CIA turned Prolog into a for-profit enterprise called Prolog Research Corporation, which ostensibly received private contracts. Under Hrinioch [Hrynioch], Prolog maintained a Munich office named the Ukrainische Geseelschaft fur Auslandsstudein, EV. Most publications were created here.
Prolog recruited and paid Ukrainian émigré writers who were generally unaware that they worked in a CIA-controlled operation. Only the six top members of the ZP/UHVR were witting agents. Beginning in 1955, leaflets were dropped over Ukraine by air[,] and radio broadcasts titled Nova Ukraina were aired in Athens for Ukrainian consumption. These activities gave way to systematic mailing campaigns to Ukraine through Ukrainian contacts in Poland and émigré contacts in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Spain, Sweden, and elsewhere. The newspaper Suchasna Ukrainia (Ukraine Today), information bulletins, a Ukrainian language journal for intellectuals called Suchasnist (The Present), and other publications were sent to libraries, cultural institutions, administrative offices and private individuals in Ukraine. These activities encouraged Ukrainian nationalism… [emphasis added]
The CIA bought and paid for a brand of Ukrainian Nationalism à la Lebed. One of the most horrifying butchers of OUN/UPA was given reign to shape the hearts and minds of the Ukrainian people around their nationalist identity, an identity as defined by the OUN. It also shaped historical and cultural interpretation such as to further romanticise the concept of the great Ukrainian race of Volodomyr the Great, encouraging a further sense of superiority and further divide between themselves and Belarussians and Russians.
One CIA analyst judged that “some form of nationalist feeling continues to exist [in the Ukraine] and…there is an obligation to support it as a cold war weapon.”
Breitman and Goda continue:
…Prolog [also] influenced [the next] Ukrainian generation…Prolog had become in the words of one senior CIA official, the sole “vehicle for CIA’s operations directed at the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and [its] forty million Ukrainian citizens.”
Lebed overtly distanced himself and the Ukrainian nationalist movement from the overt anti-Semitism of his Banderist days…More to protect the name of Ukrainian nationalism, he publicly condemned the “provocative libel” and “slanderous statements” against Jews, adding in a particularly forgetful note that, “the Ukrainian people…are opposed to all and any preaching of hatred for other people.”…Former Banderists…now attacked the Soviets for anti-Semitism rather than with it.
Lebed retired in 1975 but remained an adviser and consultant to Prolog and the ZP/UHVR…In the 1980s AERODYNAMIC’s name was changed to QRDYNAMIC and in the 1980s PDDYNAMIC and then QRPLUMB. In 1977 President Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski helped to expand the program owing to what he called its “impressive dividends” and the “impact on specific audiences in the target area.” In the 1980s Prolog expanded its operation to reach other Soviet nationalities, and in a supreme irony, these included dissident Soviet Jews. With the USSR teetering on the brink of collapse in 1990, QRPLUMB was terminated with a final payout of $1.75 million. Prolog would continue its activities, but it was on its own financially.
In June 1985 the General Accounting Office mentioned Lebed’s name in a public report on Nazis and collaborators who settled in the United States with help from US intelligence agencies. The Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in the Department of Justice began investigating Lebed that year. The CIA worried that public scrutiny of Lebed would compromise QRPLUMB and that failure to protect Lebed would trigger outrage in the Ukrainian émigré community. It thus shielded Lebed by denying any connection between Lebed and the Nazis and by arguing that he was a Ukrainian freedom fighter. The truth, of course, was more complicated. As late as 1991 the CIA tried to dissuade OSI from approaching the German, Polish, and Soviet governments for war-related records related to the OUN. OSI eventually gave up the case, unable to procure definitive documents on Lebed. [emphasis added]
Mykola Lebed died in 1998 under the protection of the CIA in New Jersey at the age of 89. His papers are located at the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.
And there you have it, the true story of the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement in its form today, bought and paid for by the CIA. Thus, it is no coincidence that the OUN ideology is inextricable from the western Ukrainian nationalist identity today, nor that several neo-Nazi groups have formed since 1991 (since Ukraine’s independence from the USSR) who all view the OUN and Stepan Bandera as the Father of their movement.
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