Mar 08, 2023 I Nick Redfern

More on the Strange History of How the Russians Got Caught in the United States' and the U.K.'s UFO Cold War Programs

As well as investigating what appeared to be legitimate, mystifying UFO encounters in the summer of 1947, the FBI also studied the possibility that the Russians were recruiting communists within the United States to provoke fear – and were using aspects of the UFO enigma to heighten that fear. Barely a month after the Kenneth Arnold situation erupted and caused worldwide amazement, FBI Special Agent S.W. Reynolds had a face-to-face chat with Brigadier George F. Schulgen, of the Intelligence Branch of the Army Air Corps Intelligence. The reason was, in part, to address that controversial matter of potential Russian manipulation of the UFO issue. In fact, it was this theory – rather than matters relative to aliens or to highly classified U.S. military programs – that was at the forefront of Brigadier Schulgen’s thinking. FBI records show Schulgen informed Reynolds that “the first reported sightings might have been by individuals of Communist sympathies with the view to causing hysteria and fear of a secret weapon [italics mine].” Schulgen’s team suspected that many flying saucer sightings were not what they seemed to be. Rather, they were completely fabricated tales – with no real UFO component attached to them at all, but driven by a Soviet operation to maximize deep concern in the United States. The Russian program had begun.

On August 14, 1947, the FBI got word – via newspaper articles contained in “the Los Angeles papers” of the day – that, to quote the FBI, “Soviet espionage agents had been instructed to determine the facts relative to the flying discs. The article carried a Washington date-line and indicated that Red espionage agents had been ordered to solve the question of flying discs, the Russians being of the opinion that this might be some new form of defense perfected by the American military.” It should also be noted, however, that the FBI was worried that those same Russian agents cited in the L.A. press were actually in the United States for other reasons. Namely, to determine how effectively they - the Soviets - were disrupting the U.S. by conjuring up bogus tales of unidentified flying objects. When questioned by the media on this matter, the FBI stated that it had no information relative to such a story. Uh-huh. FBI Special Agent D.M. Ladd, of the Bureau’s Domestic Intelligence Division said that “in the event any inquiries were made concerning such a story, that the story should be flatly denied in so far as the FBI was concerned.” Nevertheless, behind closed doors elements of the FBI were still speculating on the astounding theory that many UFO reports were complete fabrications; fanciful tales put together at the behest of influential and powerful figures in the Moscow Kremlin - to give it its full name – which is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation.

(Nick Redfern) Russia, the Cold War and Psychological warfare.

While addressing the same timeframe - the latter part of the 1940s - we see evidence that the U.S. Government chose to follow the lead of the Soviets when it came to the matter of manipulating the UFO controversy. That’s to say, U.S. Intelligence realized that if the Soviets could theoretically use bogus UFO tales as a means to try and keep the American people in a state of concern, then why couldn’t Uncle Sam do exactly the same – but with their operations aimed at the citizens of the likes of Moscow and Saint Petersburg? Evidence that the U.S. intelligence community entered into the very same realm of mind-games that the Russians initiated, can be found in the pages of a Project Grudge “Technical Report” on UFOs; Grudge being one of the early UFO projects of the U.S. military. The report was prepared by the U.S. Air Force in August 1949. The writer of the lengthy Project Grudge document states in part the following: “Upon eliminating several additional incidents due to vagueness and duplication, there remain 228 incidents, which are considered in this report. Thirty of these could not be explained, because there was found to be insufficient evidence on which to base a conclusion.”

It’s the following words, however, that really stand out. The military made a recommendation that “[the] Psychological Warfare Division and other governmental agencies interested in psychological warfare be informed of the results of this study [italics mine].” Quite possibly, it was this document - more than any other of that particular era - that led the U.S. Government to initiate a highly secret program to manipulate the flying saucer phenomenon and mess with the minds of Soviet Premier, Joseph Stalin, and his goons. Take a look at how the Pentagon defines psychological warfare. It is, in the military’s own words, “The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives [italics mine].”  What this demonstrates, is that the earliest U.S. military-controlled UFO research programs weren’t just about investigating sightings of strange things in the sky. The operations were also focused on creating utterly bogus flying saucer-themed stories; amazing yarns born out of psychological warfare operations and ingenious propaganda. The Russians were doing it to our people, and we were doing likewise to theirs. And what a strange and twisted game it all became. There's another angle: it began in the latter part of  the 1960s. And, for sure, there was a high degree of manipulation. Here we go...

It’s very intriguing to note that in the mid-to-late part of the 1960s there occurred a great deal of activity in relation to Russian meddling and manipulation of the UFO arena. As incredible as it may sound, in 1967 – which, bear in mind, was still the height of the Cold War – British authorities made a secret approach to the former Soviet Union’s military. It was an approach that revolved around nothing less than UFOs. In fact, the British Government came straight to the point: they wished to clandestinely discuss the possibility of establishing a joint UK-Soviet UFO study-program. Sounds near-unbelievable? Yes, it does. But, it’s one hundred percent verifiable. Thanks to the provisions of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), documentation has surfaced from the Defense Intelligence Agency which reveals at least significant parts of the story. According to the DIA: “In early 1967 (exact date believed to be 10 Nov) Moscow TV presented a program on Unidentified Flying Objects. On 12 Nov 67 a Reuters release in the U.K. (believe article was in Daily Telegraph) reported the TV program.” The essence of both the Soviet television show and the Reuters story, noted the DIA, was that “…the Russians had recently set up a commission to study UFOs.” The chairman of the commission, the DIA learned, was a retired Soviet Air Force (SAF) Major General A.F. Stolyarov, a former Technical Services Officer. Not only that, the project had at its disposal no less than 18 astronomers and SAF officers and “200 observers.”

 A couple of days after the television production aired, the DIA learned, the Reuters correspondent paid Major General Stolyarov a visit. The general, recorded DIA personnel, “was very polite, confirmed the information about the commission, the 18 astronomers and SAF officers and the 200 observers. In addition, he said five positive sightings had been made.” One week later, however, things had changed significantly, as the DIA’s files make very clear: “…the Reuters correspondent went back to see General Stolyarov. However, this time the correspondent could not get past the General’s secretary, [and] was politely but firmly told the General was no longer available for interview.” But, then, there was a dramatic development in the story – and, probably, a wholly unforeseen development. The DIA uncovered information to the effect that, “…on 12 December 1967, the British Embassy was directed by London to further investigate the subject with a view to cooperating with the Russians in observation teams for UFOs.” There may have been a very good reason for the actions of the Brits: between 1959 and1966, documentation now declassified by the British Ministry of Defense reveals, British authorities received a combined total of 446 UFO reports. In 1967, alone, however, the MoD was inundated with no less than 362 reports – averaging at almost one report per day.

 The DIA added that the Scientific Counselor of the British Embassy visited the Soviet Union’s State Committee for Science and Technology and inquired about two things: (a) the status and nature of the Soviet UFO commission and; (b) the possibility of “British-Russian cooperation in observation of UFOs.” According to the DIA’s sources, “…the British counselor was politely received and the Commission was freely discussed. The British were told they would receive a reply to their request about cooperation.” DIA records reveal that the Brits did not receive a reply from the Soviets and “did not pursue the subject.” But, the British Government did have its own opinions on the nature of the Soviet UFO program, however. The DIA documentation shows that, “The British Scientific Counselor believes that the original announcement of the work of the Commission on TV was an oversight on the part of the censors because the commission has not been reported or referred to anywhere else. Mr. [Censored] believes the Commission has not been disbanded, but will continue under cover. This information was sent to London.”

(Nick Redfern) Saucers and spies everywhere.

Intriguingly, the DIA records also show that the relevant data had been provided by a source that had “read confidential British files on this subject.” It is a pity that the DIA report – which was prepared by a Colonel Melvin J. Nielsen – did not expand upon the reference to these secret documents of the Brits. Nevertheless, that the British Government chose to make a stealthy approach to the Soviets – and directly in the wake of a significant wave of UFO activity in the skies of the UK – is more than notable. It suggests an undercurrent of concern and unease within certain British-based corridors of power. Even though the Soviets chose not to take matters further with the Brits (and vice-versa), the very fact that the latter made the approach – at all – is notable. In 1991, I was informed in writing by the British Ministry of Defense that, with regard to UFOs, “…we do not co-operate with other Governments on this subject.” That stance, however, did not seemingly prevent British authorities from at least attempting to work with the Soviets on the UFO problem – and practically a quarter of a century before I was assured there was no such cooperation at all! Based upon what we have seen thus far, and how agencies of government have used the UFO phenomenon to dazzle and disturb potential enemies, I strongly suspect that the Brits were seeking to find a way to use the UFO phenomenon as a means to cause problems and worries for the Soviets. And vice-versa too. Time-wise, there is evidence that suggests this scenario is indeed the likely one. 

There's no doubt, at all, that there was prime duplicity involved in this situation. Something was going on with the Brits and the Russians - and it all had something to do with Flying Saucers. But, what it was, we don't really know. It may very well have had connections with the Serpo project  that I have spoken about previiously. The  words of the DIA seemed to suggest that the Russians were looking to work with the Brits and the Americans, when it came to the matter of UFOs. I seriously doubt that was what was really going on. Rather, the plot was most likely a program that would allow the Russians to get their hands on more and more about what the Brits knew of UFOs. Or, of the psychological warfare operations that involved faked UFO stories created by the Soviet Union. The fact is that when it comes to Cold War-type situations, so many people don't realize how these operations work. They work very well - and that's because psychological warfare operators know how to manipulate people in the UFO field, whether the targets or ufologists or people in the Intelligence communities around the world.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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