Is Blackwater Successor in Ukraine?

blackwaterBy Peter Galuszka

A private security company with ties to Virginia and northeastern North Carolina has been linked to rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia that some fear could turn into war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement April 8 saying that a security firm named “Greystone” that is tied historically to the defunct and controversial Blackwater special security operations company has sent “about 150” mercenaries to Ukraine disguised as a military unit called “Falcon.”

A spokeswoman for Greystone denied to ABC news that the firm was involved with Ukraine while other news outlets were told the firm had no comment.

Greystone is registered in Bermuda, according to ABC. It was at one time linked to Blackwater although its ties to Xe Services and Academi which succeeded Blackwater after its demise are unclear.

Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL, in Moyock, N.C., near the Virginia border.  It hired former special forces military and used a swampy tract for training. The Moyock operations is close to a Navy facility at Dam Neck in Virginia Beach which is the base for the SEALs’ Team Six that tracked down and killed terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Blackwater was hired by the Bush Administration to handle security for officials and other duties in Iraq. Employees of the Blackwater firm were involved in the shooting of 17 people in Baghdad in 2007 and the firm was later banned from U.S. government work after a slew of problems in Iraq, Sudan and other countries.. During the controversy, it changed its name to Xe Services and then again to Academi, which has its headquarters in McLean. Prince has left the company.

Greystone, ABC reports, was formed as a sister company of Blackwater to handle security matters for foreign clients while Blackwater concentrated on U.S. government contracts.

The Russian government started accusing both Blackwater and Greystone of being involved in Ukraine last month although U.S. officials have denied it. Tensions have risen after Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was ousted and Russia seized Crimea. Russia has thousands of troops massed on the Ukrainian border.

Another footnote in this strange tale: a director of Academi is retired Navy admiral Bobby Ray Inman, who is a former head of the National Security Agency, a deputy director of the CIA and a former head of naval intelligence. Inman also had been a director of as the last board chairman of then-Richmond-based Massey Energy, which was forced to be sold to Alpha Natural Resources after a deadly explosion at a West Virginia coal mine.

I’m not making this up.

6 Responses to Is Blackwater Successor in Ukraine?

  1. Oh, brother. That’s all we need. We still blame Bush, right? No?

    Czar Putin is out to start a war and if he isn’t careful he may get it. Given that, perhaps a company of these well-trained gents might have its uses. But I’m not sure we’ve covered ourselves in glory on this one, and the U.S. did seem pretty happy when Putin’s puppet president was driven from power. Be careful what you ask for. Who destabilized whom may be irrelevant once somebody shoots a crown prince and the game is underway. The Guns of August?

    Until we invaded Iraq I was pretty comfortable in my (false but fun to debate) historical claim that Democrats started all the wars. But I may be getting another data point on my side.

  2. This basically proves the fact that sludge flows downhill. The fact that we live in a world in which a company like Blackwater/Greystone isn’t considered a criminal mafia is damning evidence of the shortcomings inherent in humanity. For every amazing person in the world doing good through volunteerism and charity, there is a murderer for money who would invoke a bloody war (regardless of ideology) in order to make a few coins.

    How do we know the Russians themselves didn’t hire blackwater to create the kind of instability we are seeing in eastern Ukraine? Seems counter-productive for a passive US presidents to want to start conflict in a country that has very little US importance when it is at peace. Only at war does the Ukraine become an issue of concern… so why would the US want to promote that?

    Seems like Russia may simply be trying to create an air of externality and I wouldn’t put it past KGB Vlad to hire the US equivalent to do the job for him, after all his attempt to have unidentifiable russian troups in Crimea was seen through pretty quickly.

  3. Breckinridge,
    I didn’t mean to blame Bush for much here since the news is Russia but now that you bring it up ….

    One of the biggest problems with the War in Iraq besides the doctored and false intelligence reporting that led to it was that Rumsfeld and Cheney greatly taxed American military resources. Men and women were made to serve repeated tours. National Guard soldiers were required to fill the gaps. We haven’t even started to pay the trillions due which is something the government spending hawks on this blog constantly fail to bring up (it is always Medicaid cheats or welfare queens or somesuch).

    The Bush Administration’s solution was to privatize and outsource lots of the security and supply. That’s why you got Blackwater which operated beyond the pale of typical Defense Department rules. There’s a reason why they were cut off from government contracts and ultimately failed.

    • I am no defender of the invasion of Iraq. Stupid on a number of levels. But I do wonder whether this administration learned anything or is just doubling down. Because if there are American mercenaries working for the pro-Western side in Ukraine, is has to sanctioned or at least actively ignored. But I don’t know whether it is true or not. The first casualty of war is always truth. Sadly, other casualties follow.

  4. With the “weak leader” narrative going around.. there is pressure on this administration to “do something”.

    bad karma. it’s not good enough that we outspend the next 10 countries combined on “defense” (and we don’t count ALL of our defense spending to boot)… we have to have a take names and kick ass foreign policy.. that inevitably is what the Cheney, McCain, Graham, Rumsfeld types want.

    otherwise, Obama will end up as Jimmy Carter II.

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