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INSCOM Intelligence Report 23AUG21 - OOW 03-21 POW Interrogation

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SGT N. White:
SECRET

UNITED STATES ARMY

INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY COMMAND, FORT BELVOIR, VA23 AUGUST 2021

(S) Interrogation of NRU POWs Captured During Operation Odin's Watch 03-21


(S)



Pictured above: Inprocessing photographs of three alleged members of the Nationalist Russian Union (NRU) who were taken prisoner by members of Task Force Alpha during Operation Odin's Watch Phase 03-21.

(U) Summary and Purpose

(U) The following document has been cleared for release by S-2 intelligence in order to bring personnel of, or attached to, the 1-506th Infantry Regiment a greater understanding of the nature of ongoing combat operations in Finland. All current international treaties, laws, and established human rights protocols were followed in obtaining information from captives.

(U) Interviews listed below were conducted with captured personnel of the so-called "Nationalist Russian Union" (NRU) aggressor forces operating in the vicinity of Virolahti, Finland. Each prisoner was interviewed by a fully-qualified and trained US Army interrogator holding the MOS of 35M (Human Intelligence Collector), and all such encounters took place in-theater at 1 BCT field headquarters.

(S) Succeeding intelligence revealed by POWs may not, despite the efforts of assigned 35M personnel, be complete, fully accurate, or even current; it should be noted that no successful interviews of POWs were conducted prior to the conclusion of Alpha Company's mission during Phase 05-21 of Operation Odin's Watch. All personnel responsible for conducting interrogations have been assigned NATO phonetic designators to protect their identity in the event of capture. Additional details have been curated or edited out for relevance, decorum, or other miscellaneous purposes as seen fit by S-2. Full audio and video transcripts of each session are available upon written authorization by Battalion command, and to those with sufficient security clearance.

(S) Interview #27

(S) The following is a partial transcript of the interrogation of an "efreitor" (equivalent to an E-2 private), Semyon Polikarpov.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)(S) BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

GOLF: Semyon. How are you feeling? Is your wound healing well?

POLIKARPOV: You ask about my health? I am not your friend, American.

GOLF: We can change that, you know? If you help us. We don't have to fight or be enemies.

POLIKARPOV: I would drive a spike through my eye first.

GOLF: That's the last thing we'd want for you. What can I do to convince you that we don't want to hurt you?

POLIKARPOV: The West has hurt and killed its way for decades. Longer. We are ready to hurt and kill in return.

GOLF: That's not how Americans do things. This is what I'm talking about, Semyon. We're trying to understand you--what your leaders want.

POLIKARPOV: You could not.

GOLF: I'm trying to help you. We want to go home as much as you do.

POLIKARPOV: Where would I go? NATO stands on my porch. You threaten to invade my home, [EXPLETIVE], and in Finland, there are more of us than you. It is only a matter of time, and we will strike first.

GOLF: What does that mean? Help me understand.

POLIKARPOV: You wish to understand me? Understand this--we have fifty, a hundred tanks in Vyborg.

GOLF: The NRU--are they not able to muster more?

(POLIKARPOV makes a vulgar gesture at GOLF)

POLIKARPOV: I see no tanks in your camp.

GOLF: Semyon, we are trying to save lives here. You possess information that could help us end it, maybe tonight. Where are those tanks going?

POLIKARPOV: To your cheap whore mother's house. I am finished speaking. You will receive nothing from me.

(S) END TRANSCRIPT
(S) Interviewer's note: Mister Polikarpov is among the most aggressive and resilient of the current batch of prisoners. While his political commentary is unhelpful, and he is unlikely to be well-informed at his rank, we've gauged him to be an accurate representation of the mentality of lower-level NRU forces; chiefly, that the enemy is convinced that we have recklessly invaded Finland with piracy, not peace-keeping, in mind. It is probable that NRU personnel are exposed to strong propaganda on a regular basis. No evidence has been found that his claim of "fifty" or "a hundred" tanks of any description in Vyborg, Russia is accurate.

(S) Interview #37

(S) The following is a near-total transcript of the interrogation of a sergeant, Dmitri Bakholdin. It is believed that the other prisoner, Efreitor Polikarpov, reports to him, though neither have openly spoken to, or about, each other since in-processing.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)(S) BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

DELTA: Have a seat, Dmitri.

BAKHOLDIN: I...

(BAKHOLDIN gestures to the interpreter and they confer.)

INTERPRETER: He doesn't speak much English and he doesn't trust you. He's worried his family will be punished if he answers wrong.

DELTA: Ask him why he thinks that.

(INTERPRETER and BAKHOLDIN speak at some length.)

BAKHOLDIN: I am afraid of the general.

DELTA: Which one?

BAKHOLDIN: Pushkinuv.

DELTA: This position is secured by hundreds of men. Anything you say will stay right here.

BAKHOLDIN: An American's word is worth toilet paper among my soldiers.

DELTA: Let me put it this way. If any of my men went and talked about this, they would end up in a darker, nastier cell than you've been sitting in. No one is going to repeat any of this to General Pushkinuv.

(BAKHOLDIN rubs his temples and, with his head in his hands, remains silent for several moments.)

BAKHOLDIN: It was a suicide mission.

DELTA: Which one? The one you were on?

BAKHOLDIN: The whole thing. The general is biding his time. He did not expect you to engage him directly.

DELTA: Why not? Between the shoot-down over Oviaukko, the irritated locals...

BAKHOLDIN: It is called "Maskirovka." Deception. He wishes to appear...different than he is. Instead, it seems you surprised him.

DELTA: We've won every fight we've started.

BAKHOLDIN: And that's why I would be afraid of the general. He does not show his entire hand. He is too confident for a man who is losing. His resolve is absolute.

DELTA: What do you think he's hiding?

BAKHOLDIN: You don't understand, [NAME REDACTED]. I'm just a sergeant. I am responsible for three men and myself. My leaders tell me what is necessary to know--our task was to delay you, to slow down your "task force."

DELTA: It wasn't by much.

BAKHOLDIN: It was enough. General Pushkinuv wouldn't have continued if he thought the battle was pointless. He fights on--he knows something you do not.

DELTA: What do you think he knows?

BAKHOLDIN: Even if I knew, I would not tell you. I am here to save my men--not assist you in winning your war.

DELTA: What is the NRU?

BAKHOLDIN: You already know.

DELTA: Refresh my memory.

BAKHOLDIN: It is simple. Russia has interests, as you do. There are some who want it now, and some who want it in a generation. General Pushkinuv is not as moderate as his older peers. He remembers how Afghanistan was handled.

DELTA: So the NRU are...tired of half-measures? Not going far enough.

BAKHOLDIN: That is one way to put it. It is how my men feel.

DELTA: There must be more, though.

BAKHOLDIN: Resources, money--things I am not paid to worry about, maybe. That is for your leaders to debate. In the end, we smile, but shoot each other anyway.

DELTA: Does General Pushkinuv take orders from the Russian government still?

BAKHOLDIN: The general acts for Russia.

DELTA: That's not what I asked, Dmitri. Does he take orders from someone else or not?

(BAKHOLDIN refuses to answer any more questions directly from this point on and shows signs of deception.)

(S) END TRANSCRIPT
(S) Interviewer's note: Sergeant Bakholdin seems grounded and reasonable, but is resistant to answering particulars. He seems to be more aware of the who and why than we are, but not to the point that further interviews would be expected to yield helpful information. We simply do not have a mechanism to extract more details from him than the fact the NRU is, plainly, a nationalist Russian faction comprised at least in part of ideologues. His admission of presumptive danger to his family suggests the NRU possesses a deeply-rooted support network reminiscent of the Soviet era. This raises questions about whether the NRU's soldiers are even willfully serving, and what other extreme acts their leaders may be willing to carry out.

(S) Interview #54

(S) The following is a partial transcript of the interrogation of a "Starshiy" (Senior) Lieutenant, Grigori Djugashvili. Mister Djugashvili is ethnically Georgian, but appears to share similar mentality with Russian nationals in his unit. It is unclear from prior questioning who exactly he reported to or commanded, but he claims to be from a unit called Bear Group ("Gruppa Medved").

Spoiler (click to show/hide)(S) BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

(QUEBEC cleans up a water spill on the table.)

QUEBEC: I've got it.

DJUGASHVILI: Gracious of you.

QUEBEC: That's a fancy word--you don't need a 'terp?

DJUGASHVILI: I studied medicine in the West. My father was a rich businessman--a traveler. We settled in Germany for a time. I am fluent in several languages.

QUEBEC: You're a reasonable man, then.

DJUGASHVILI: If that is what you want to call it.

QUEBEC: Why are you in Finland?

DJUGASHVILI: If you must know, one of my cousins joined the Northern Assistance Force. We spoke about it on V-Kontakt--

QUEBEC: V-Kontakt?

DJUGASHVILI: A social-media service--he talked me into joining the effort here.

QUEBEC: What convinced you, though?

DJUGASHVILI: There were rumors of poor medicine in the ranks and I enlisted to see what sort of aid I could provide.

QUEBEC: You're an officer--you said you enlisted? But you were already a member of the Russian army, also?

DJUGASHVILI: There were flyers all over the base at Voronezh. I was curious and spoke with my commanding officer about it. It was a special assignment.

QUEBEC: Joining your current unit was a special assignment? Do I have that right? In the Russian army?

(DJUGASHVILI pauses and shakes his head.)

DJUGASHVILI: I misspoke. I am both a member of the Russian army, and the Northern Assistance Force.

QUEBEC: So you're a volunteer?

DJUGASHVILI: Essentially, yes.

QUEBEC: And you were...given a command? As a doctor?

DJUGASHVILI: It so happened I was mistaken--there were enough doctors at the front, and combat seemed unlikely at that time. I was placed in charge of a surveying crew's security.

QUEBEC: The "bear group" you talked about before.

DJUGASHVILI: Yes. There were mercenaries--is that the right word? No. Contractors--there were contractors there. Turkish men. We had some sort of arrangement, but it was beyond me to be concerned with what it was.

QUEBEC: We've fought a private military company recently, on Oviaukko island. They were a Turkish firm--what were they like?

DJUGASHVILI: Oh, we didn't talk to them, much. They didn't speak Russian, and they hated speaking English. We let them do their job, and we did ours.

QUEBEC: What was your job?

DJUGASHVILI: To not ask them theirs.

QUEBEC: That doesn't make any sense.

DJUGASHVILI: It doesn't really matter. They left months ago.

QUEBEC: Do you know anything about a General Pushkinuv?

DJUGASHVILI: No. Someone above me reported to a Colonel Bezmenov. There is no general in Finland, that I know of, other than ones that came and went. There were mere hundreds of us.

QUEBEC: What is the NRU, then?

DJUGASHVILI: The NRU?

QUEBEC: The unit you served with--they don't call themselves the "Northern Assistance Force." They call themselves the Nationalist Russian Union.

DJUGASHVILI: I wouldn't know anything about that.

QUEBEC: You heard nothing about it. Not a peep?

DJUGASHVILI: No. My orders were simple. Nothing about nationalist unions.

QUEBEC: What were your orders?

DJUGASHVILI: We were to provide security against a Finnish terror group. I should not have told you this.

QUEBEC: I'm familiar with them already, actually.

DJUGASHVILI: Right...and we did that. When we heard incoming fire, we presumed terrorists were attacking us. I surrendered immediately when I saw American soldiers coming."

QUEBEC: You were providing security months after the contractors left?

DJUGASHVILI: There were other tasks besides that one.

QUEBEC: Were any assaults planned?

DJUGASHVILI: If there were, I do not know who we would attack.

QUEBEC: Let me get this straight, then. You came to Finland to protect PMCs from a terror group. Then when they left, you were still tasked on security elsewhere. You worked with the NRU, but were unaware of them as a member of the NAF. Then, when we showed up, you had no idea until we fired on you--and you surrendered as soon as you saw us.

DJUGASHVILI: Yes. That is what I said.

QUEBEC: You're full of [EXPLETIVE].

(DJUGASHVILI appears to be offended at QUEBEC's outburst and the interview ends shortly afterward.)

(S) END TRANSCRIPT
(S) Interviewer notes: We've extensively scoured HUMINT, ELINT and other sources to corroborate this Lieutenant Djugashvili's story. About the only thing he said that was true is that flag officers have been seen coming and going in eastern Finland, and that flyers calling for volunteers were definitely distributed on a Russian army base in Voronezh. The nature of the split between NAF/NRU was not elucidated, if there even was one, but it is likely that a large number of serving Russian army personnel have been funneled into inadmissible hybrid warfare operations.

(S) Conclusion

(S) All POWs that have been questioned so far show a uniform trend towards misdirection, persistent deflection and accusation toward the West, as well as outright deceit. Some information has proven completely valid, such as the second prisoner's reference to Maskirovka--an established Russian warfare doctrine. The link between NAF/NRU, as well as the relationship between General Pushkinuv and the Russian government itself, remains unclear.

(S) It appears that this is a deliberate aspect of the NRU's strategy in Finland, and S-2 believes that uprooting such a link, or other associations, will position us to further dismantle their illegal presence while also reducing the collateral effects of prolonged conflict.


Classified By: S-2 Intelligence
Reason: 1.4(a)
Declassify On: (2036)(08)(24)

END REPORT

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