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Post Stepan Bandera; Postwar British Espionage in Ukraine
Created by John Eipper on 12/27/18 4:15 AM

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Stepan Bandera; Postwar British Espionage in Ukraine (Boris Volodarsky, Austria, 12/27/18 4:15 am)

Merry Christmas!

These festive days are not the best time for fierce political discussions or a battle of wits; therefore I shall explain my view of Bandera in straightforward terms for Eugenio Battaglia (24 December).

"I generally do not present suppositions," Eugenio stated. "I write what I believe to be the truth." Linguistically, supposition is interpreted as "a belief held without proof or certain knowledge; an assumption or hypothesis."

Politically, one should differentiate between Stepan Bandera and the Ukrainian nationalist resistance movement, Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, whose pro-Western Galician-centred wing (OUN-B) was headed by Bandera and another, OUN-M, by his political rival, Andrey Melnyk. The OUN was led by Eugene Konovalets, who made contacts with German military intelligence, the Abwehr. "The intense interest shown by the Nazis in the Ukrainian problem," writes Stephen Dorril, a very reliable researcher and academic, "aroused the anxiety of the Polish government and provoked a series of trials, banishments and executions, which created in the OUN a hatred of ‘the Polish orientation'."  This culminated in the murder of Polish Interior Minister General Peiracki in June 1934. The Polish authorities arrested a number of OUN leaders who had conspired in attacks on Polish officials, including Stepan Bandera, Mykola Lebed and Yaroslav Stetsko. At the beginning of 1936, a Warsaw court handed down death sentences which were later commuted to life."

While Bandera was in prison, several of his followers were recruited by the MI6 head of station in Finland, Harry Carr, and used as a network of informants inside the Soviet Union. In May 1938 Konovalets was assassinated in Rotterdam by the Soviet NKVD illegal Pavel Sudoplatov, later head of its Special Tasks department that exists until this day.

Andrey Melnyk, Richard Iarii and Roman Sushko, who was head of the OUN military organisation, continued to develop close ties with the Abwehr.

In the confusion that followed the events of September 1939, Bandera, Lebed and others were released from the recently created Bereza Kartuska prison that ceased to exists immediately after the Soviet invasion of Poland of September 17-18. They immediately began to challenge the authority of the OUN leadership. At the heart of the dispute was the wish to launch a more active policy in pursuit of Ukrainian independence.

When operation Barbarossa was launched on 22 June 1941, the OUN-B's military formation codenamed NACHTIGALL advanced with the Wehrmacht to Lviv, reaching the city in the morning of 30 June. Prior to their withdrawal from Lviv, Soviet NKVD personnel had slaughtered 3,000 political prisoners, mostly Ukrainian nationalists, and a few Jewish Zionists.

On 15 September 1941, the Gestapo arrested two thousand Ukrainian nationalists. Melnyk was put under house arrest, while Bandera and a number of other leading OUN members were transferred from Berlin, where Bandera was recalled from Kraków where he had remained after his release from prison, and placed in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In October 1944, as Ukraine finally came under Soviet control, Melnyk, Bandera and their supporters were released from detention to organise a final defence. The peak of the Volhynia massacre, carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), happened in July and August 1943. Its commander was senior Nachtigall officer Roman Shukhevych (nom de guerre "Taras Chuprynka").

In what concerns the intelligence history, Philby was posted by MI6 to Turkey in January 1947 posing as First Secretary of the British embassy in Istanbul. In this capacity, he only had access to the British operation CLIMBER penetrating Georgian agents from Turkey into the Soviet Georgia. Operation INTEGRAL, to send agents into Soviet Ukraine, was controlled by Harry Carr at the headquarters, controller of the MI6's Northern Department, and in charge of the operation were Colonel Harold "Gibby" Gibson and Hubert O'Bryan Tear, who later served in Moscow. Ukrainians, primarily from OUN-B, were trained at the London's Holland Park special school and then parachuted primarily into the western regions. Although Yuri Modin, who claimed to have been a controller of Philby (which is not true), boasted that Philby betrayed all agents to the NKVD-MGB, this could not have been the case because he knew only those few who were dispatched from Turkey. Although all drops of the Ukrainian agents were successful, nothing more was heard from them and they were assumed to have been captured, which was an easy and convenient explanation. What happened to them in reality is a mystery.

At the end of 1949, Philby who arrived in Washington as the new SIS liaison officer with the CIA and Frank Wisner's Office of Policy Co-Ordination (OPC), tried to interest the Americans in taking over the entire British-funded Ukrainian network and other émigré groups because of his service's lack of funds. The Americans initially balked at the suggestion because of the known fascist past of the agents...

JE comments:  All the Christmas best to you, Boris!  The complexity of the Ukraine "problem" is not for the faint of heart--note the intrigues of Germany, Britain, Poland, the Soviet Union, and later the US.  In slightly altered form, the narrative continues to this day.

Boris, is it safe to say that Bandera was not responsible for the Volyn massacres, given that he was in German custody at the time?  Or was he still directing UPA from the concentration camp, possibly with German complicity?

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