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- "He's more powerful than you know. He even has people in the CIA."
- — Kravchenko's last words, if not killed by Mason.
Colonel Lev Kravchenko (Russian: Лев Кравченко) is a recurring antagonist in the Black Ops franchise. He was the secondary antagonist of Call of Duty: Black Ops and a minor antagonist in Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. He was Nikita Dragovich's second-in-command, and he was partly the reason why the SOG was deployed in Vietnam. Kravchenko was later executed while being interrogated. Depending on the player's actions, his death comes at the hands of Frank Woods or Alex Mason.
In any other regime, Colonel Kravchenko would've been locked away, if not executed. Often referred to as Dragovich's lap dog, Kravchenko was a ruthless and cold-hearted sadist made of pure brutality and aggression. Staying mostly silent, he carried out his commander's orders without question. Much like Dragovich, Kravchenko detested Viktor Reznov. His reasons however, were much more mundane than those of Dragovich: Kravchenko took his lead wholly from his General.
Kravchenko was a powerful figure of a man, built for war. He was a ruthless and cold-blooded military officer, and had to fulfill his blood-lust no matter the cost. He was aggressive and impatient, but not vengeful. He did not see past his next action, and therefore would always be a weapon of war, and not an orchestrator. Kravchenko relished the suffering of others; it is one of the few things that could incite anything resembling a human feeling inside the man.
Lev Kravchenko was born on March 20, 1922 in Petrograd, USSR. Little is known about his early life, but it is implied that he met Nikita Dragovich at a young age and fell under his mentorship at some point. It was this early friendship that ultimately led to Kravchenko following his superior with extreme devotion, a rumor originating from his village outside of Leningrad telling of Kravchenko mutilating and murdering his sister Irina for spurning Dragovich's romantic advances towards her. It is believed that this act of loyalty is what led to Lev's commission as an officer under Dragovich's command.
Kravchenko's actions during the course of World War II are largely unknown, but it can be assumed that he remained as General Dragovich's chief adjutant throughout the course of the conflict. This would imply that he was also present during the conflict in Stalingrad at the same time as his mentor, hinting to his possible involvement in denying reinforcements to Viktor Reznov and his men during the battle at the Red Square.
The Hunt for Steiner
- "Ahh... The hero of Berlin graces us with his presence!... Have you not tired of battle, Reznov?"
- — Kravchenko teasing Reznov.
At the end of World War II, Dragovich was in charge of interrogating German POW's for information about their war effort. It was from these exploits that he learned of the chemical weapon known as Nova 6 and the cargo ship transporting it trapped in the arctic. Seizing the opportunity to claim Nova 6 for the Soviet Union and to advance their own power, Kravchenko and Dragovich led an operation to obtain the chemical weapon from the Nazi remnants with the assistance of Friedrich Steiner, the creator of Nova 6 who willingly defected to the Soviets.
Kravchenko formed a special task group consisting largely of soldiers loyal to Dragovich and his goals, although soldiers such as Viktor Reznov and his close friend Dimitri Petrenko were also present in the unit. Dragovich had come to believe that Reznov became nothing short of a thorn in his side, and thus he plotted to eliminate them if they managed to survive the battle against the Germans.
Kravchenko and his General commanded the soldiers from near the front lines to assure the push into the Nazi compound was successful. Ultimately, Reznov and Dimitri survived and located Steiner, who turned himself over without incident and demanded to be taken to Dragovich. After the battle, Kravchenko moved slowly down a line of captured German soldiers, coldly executing them all with his Tokarev until he reached the last one and his pistol ran out. Undaunted, he instead drew Private Yared's knife and brutally slit the last German's throat. Steiner led the Soviet soldiers to the trapped cargo ship containing the shipment of Nova 6 and the V2 rockets intended to unleash the chemicals into Washington D.C. and Moscow. However, Dragovich desired to see the effects of Nova 6 first hand and ordered his men to throw Reznov, Dimitri and the rest of their squad into sealed observation rooms. Kravchenko watched as they tested the gas, resulting in half of Reznov's men being killed brutally by the poison, including Dimitri.
Before Kravchenko could see to the collection of the Nova 6 samples however, British Commandos assaulted the vessel with the hopes of stealing the weapon for themselves. When a battle broke out between the commandos and Dragovich's men, Kravchenko fled the ship with Dragovich and Steiner. Reznov managed to escape his containment cell when the fighting broke out and primed the inactive German explosives attached to the V2 rockets. Despite the out come of the battle, the V2 rockets exploded and sunk the ship into the arctic ocean below- taking the Nova 6 shipment with it. However, Steiner was still in Soviet care and agreed to produce new Nova 6 variants for Dragovich in the years to come. Reznov was tracked down and captured shortly after the shipment sunk and Kravchenko saw to his imprisonment in Vorkuta for years to come.
In the years to come from 1945 to the 1960s, Kravchenko climbed the ranks of the Soviet military and ultimately obtained the rank of Colonel. He devotedly assisted Dragovich in his plan to end the Cold War between the USSR and America by utilizing Nova 6 as their trump card, with Steiner having worked closely with Soviet scientists to develop more efficient and modernized strands of the long lost German chemical weapon.
As part of their plan, Kravchenko oversaw the brain washing of several sleeper agents who were taken to Vorkuta for this specific purpose. With Steiner's assistance, Kravchenko brain washed various American citizens and soldiers with a programming inside their subconscious that allowed the Soviets to utilize number stations to force their agents to carry out designated orders through broadcasted number frequencies. The majority of these agents were planted all over the United States with the intention to one day be given the order to deploy Nova 6 in major cities all over the country, neutralizing the command capabilities of America in one swift stroke and paving the way for a Soviet invasion force under Dragovich's command. It is implied that not even the government of the USSR was truly aware of what Dragovich planned, but Kravchenko cared little for the say of politicians.
Kravchenko was later present in Cuba in April 1961, accompanying General Dragovich while he secured an alliance with the Cuban Prime Minister, Fidel Castro, that permitted them to operate within Cuban borders. They specifically planned to use this alliance to construct an underwater base in the sea within Cuban borders to broadcast the number frequencies needed to trigger their sleeper agents in America to disperse Nova 6.
While the alliance was easily secured, their stay became slightly complicated with the arrival of a CIA assassination team consisting of Alex Mason, Frank Woods and Joseph Bowman that were backed by a local Cuban rebel group funded by the CIA. However, Dragovich had obtained wind of the plot in advance and advised Castro to assign a body double to be in his place- which led to Mason and Woods killing the double, mistaking the mission for a success.
Ultimately the rebels lost the ensuing battle and forced the CIA team to flee Cuba in a C-130. Due to a road block on the runway, Mason jumped from the plane and took over a Cuban ZPU-4 to destroy the vehicles blocking the plane, allowing it to take off safely. Finally making his first actual appearance in the game, Kravchenko abruptly pulled Mason from his seat on the ZPU and allowed a Cuban soldier to knock him unconscious. He then proceeded to bring Mason before Dragovich and Castro, the former deciding to utilize Mason as one of their sleeper agents. Kravchenko then took Mason to Vorkuta where he spent the next two years of his life.
Although Steiner tried to brain wash Mason, the methods yielded no results and he refused to comply with their directives. Seeing no further use for him, Kravchenko and Dragovich left Mason to rot in Vorkuta as a prisoner for the rest of his life. However, Mason came to meet Reznov while in Vorkuta and the two planned a massive prison break that ended in Reznov sacrificing himself so that Mason could escape the prison and return to America to later track down and kill those who had imprisoned them.
- "Surrender now... And you will be allowed to live."
- — Kravchenko ordering Mason and Woods to surrender.
In November 1963, one month after the Vorkuta prison break, Dragovich and Kravchenko attended the launch of the first Soyuz rocket in Baikonur. The CIA ordered SOG to stop this and eliminate Dragovich. A CIA plant named Grigori Weaver had infiltrated the staff of the launch site with the instructions to sabotage the rocket, but his orders failed to be carried out when Kravchenko discovered and captured him. He brought Weaver outside of the site and ordered Mason and his team to surrender to them over his radio, claiming Weaver would be allowed to leave with them. When he received no response, Kravchenko proceeded to stab out Weaver's left eye with a knife and instructed his men to take him to a bunker for later interrogation and execution. However, Mason and his team managed to infiltrate the compound, rescue Weaver, and ultimately shoot down the Soyuz 2 rocket. Despite these victories for the CIA alongside the successful elimination of the Ascension Group, Kravchenko and Dragovich managed to escape by helicopter before Mason, Woods, Bowman, Weaver and Brooks could get to them.
Five years later in 1968 during the Vietnam war, Dragovich also joined forces with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army in Vietnam. He instructed Kravchenko to oversee operations conducted in the area, as well as field testing of Nova 6 compounds, which he kept on audio recordings within his underground research site in the Viet Cong tunnel system. He conducted several operations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; testing Nova 6 on Vietnamese locals, American soldiers, and even his own men at times.
The SOG, led by Mason, Woods and Bowman tried to find Kravchenko while the CIA searched for Dragovich and Steiner. Despite their best efforts however, they were eventually captured by Dragovich's men while investigating a crashed Soviet cargo plane carrying a Nova 6 shipment. Kravchenko personally arrived with Dragovich to claim the SOG operatives, taking them to an underground Viet Cong prison camp where they were kept for just over a week. While Bowman died in their captivity, Woods and Mason staged a daring escape with the goal to track down and kill Kravchenko for revenge.
Woods and Mason stole an Mi-24 Hind and used the maps within the chopper to track down the compound Kravchenko was set up in. Kravchenko watched through the bulletproof observation window from his office while the SOG units tore through his men, the blood thirsty Colonel urging them to come up and face him. Mason was the first to kick in the door, but Kravchenko hit him to the floor with a chair and engaged Woods in a hand to hand fight. Proving to be stronger than his opponent, Kravchenko threw Woods to the ground and prevented Mason from getting to his pistol, before repeatedly beating him into submission. Just as Kravchenko finally recognized Mason and acknowledged his mistake for not having killed him in Vorkuta, Woods unexpectedly stabbed him in the lower back with a knife. Intending to take them both with him, Kravchenko pulled a string that pulled loose the pins of multiple grenades attached to his belt. With no other choice, Woods sacrificed himself and tackled Kravchenko out of the nearby window to the floor below.
Mason saw the explosion and accepted that they were both dead, leaving with information from the office that told him of Steiner's location. In reality however, Kravchenko's grenade belt came loose during the fall and exploded away from him and Woods. The two were simply rendered unconscious from the fall, but Kravchenko came to first and proceeded to capture and bring Woods to the Hanoi Hilton prison camp in Vietnam before vanishing off the grid for several years.
Following his survival in Vietnam, the CIA came to believe that Kravchenko had died. With Steiner killed by Mason shortly after the events in Vietnam, the CIA launched an operation to destroy the numbers station constructed in the Cuban waters and prevent the activation of Dragovich's sleeper cells. The operation was a success and the deployment of Nova 6 was prevented, leading to the destruction of the numbers station and Mason ultimately killing Dragovich in the collapsing base.
With his long time mentor and friend now dead, Kravchenko no longer had an immediate superior to hold his leash and became a mad dog on the loose. He remained in the Soviet army, and by 1981 was serving with the KGB.
In 1981 Kravchenko was one of many Soviets working closely with the KGB, alongside Imran Zakhaev. At some point, Kravchenko was assigned to investigate and locate a mole within the KGB. Thanks to the work of General Anton Charkov, it had been narrowed down to Dimitri Belikov. Nonetheless, Kravchenko along with everyone else - including Belikov, was called to a meeting with Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss security concerns regarding the mole within the KGB and security access, and how Zakhaev had restricted bunker key access to most of the top leadership personnel, including Belikov. As Belikov was working for the CIA, he had to figure out a plan to get Charkov's bunker key access.
Belikov enters Charkov's office either through a connecting secondary office or requesting a meeting with him. Belikov silently kills Charkov by assassination for the former, or poisoned tea for the latter.
Belikov, learning that Charkov is interrogating a prisoner named Piotr Ivanov, manages to reach Ivanov in a moment of respite and convinces him to help by having him kill Charkov and loosen his shackles. When Charkov comes to interrogate Ivanov and threatens his family, Ivanov kills him by stabbing a pencil into his neck.
Belikov frames Charkov as the mole by passing off his communications to the CIA as his, giving a false document to Kravchenko. Kravchenko falls for the bait and has Charkov incarcerated in the prison underneath the building, despite his insistence that Belikov is the mole.
Belikov creates a key card with Charkov's credentials.
Eventually, Kravchenko would become disillusioned with the USSR, believing that the Soviet Union was dying out. As a result, Kravchenko sought to obtain as much wealth as he could before his country eventually collapsed around him. He took advantage of his position in the military and began selling Soviet weaponry and other armaments on the black market. One of his most prominent and wealthy clients was none other than Raul Menendez, a Nicaraguan crime lord who ran a powerful drug cartel.
After Woods managed to escape Vietnamese imprisonment, his survival shed light to the CIA that Kravchenko was still alive. However, their focus shifted to eliminating Raul Menendez and his operations against the US government. Conducting an operation in Angola in 1986, Mason found Menendez conversing with Kravchenko via radio, revealing their partnership. Kravchenko had been stationed in Afghanistan assisting in the Soviet invasion of the country for the past few years, and had apparently been charged with hunting down and eliminating Mujahideen compounds around the country. It wasn't until two months later that Woods and Mason would actually see fit to travel to Afghanistan and investigate the connection to Menendez.
Afghanistan and Actual Death
While Woods, Mason, Jason Hudson, and Tian Zhao are present in a Mujahideen compound to meet with the insurgent leader, Mullah Rahmaan, Kravchenko leads a Soviet assault on the base to wipe out the fighters in the local area. Commanding the battle from within a large tank and favoring the use of brute force and superior numbers to overwhelm his opponents, Kravchenko eventually takes to the front lines when his forces began to lose ground due to the efforts of the CIA operatives.
The Mujahideen lead a suicidal barrage on horse back towards the tank, which is decimated by Kravchenko's tank and several other armored vehicles. When Woods saw Mason stunned and unable to walk, he assisted Mason. The ploy grants Mason time to climb onto the tank with a mortar shell in an effort to destroy it. When Kravchenko sees his old enemy, he exits to meet Mason and punches him as he attempted to throw the mortar shell into the interior of the tank. He prepared to engage Mason in a hand to hand melee combat fight on top of the tank, but the battle was brutally short due to Kravchenko's old age slowing him down more than it had in Vietnam twenty years prior.
Mason manages to stun Kravchenko with several blows to the head and quickly throw the mortar shell inside the tank, causing it to explode from within and throwing Mason and Kravchenko to the ground. His programming once again returning and demanding he kill Kravchenko, Mason began to strangle the Colonel with the intent to finish him off before Woods arrived and knocked Kravchenko out with the stock of his AK-47, capturing him for interrogation.
During his imprisonment and interrogation by the Mujahideen, Hudson, Woods, and Mason, he refused to disclose any information regarding his wealthy client, Raul Menendez; after Woods promises him a quick death, Kravchenko eventually concedes by telling them that he supplied Menendez with an arsenal of weaponry. Kravchenko then ended with a smug comment suggesting that there may be a potential mole within the CIA; a notion which Hudson thinks is preposterous. The interrogation concludes with Woods executing Kravchenko and the Mujahideen betraying the CIA team as a result of the execution of Lev when Menendez caught wind of Kravchenko's fate.
Tied to a chair in the Mujahideen compound for questioning, a vengeful Woods interrogated Kravchenko for information on Menendez, cutting his right cheek open with a knife before stabbing the same knife through his right hand and into the arm rest of his chair. Kravchenko gave in and told the CIA of how he sold weapons to Menendez's cartel in exchange for large sums of money. He will also further imply that Menendez has connections deeper than Woods and Mason are aware, hinting that he has contacts within the CIA who operate on his payroll. Unwilling to listen to him any more, Woods draws his pistol and shoots Kravchenko in the head, executing him and finally killing the blood thirsty Colonel.
In an alternate twist on the story, Mason can execute Kravchenko in the same way if the player refuses or fails to resist the number programming demanding that he kill Kravchenko during the interrogation. However, if the player lets Mason kill Kravchenko, Mason and Woods will not learn about the potential mole in the CIA. This will affect the player's storyline later down the line, but Kravchenko's death itself will have no major repercussions.
The intel from Kravchenko allowed the CIA to learn Menendez's location where Mason, Hudson, and Woods, with the help of Manuel Noriega, stormed the compound but failed when Woods lost his temper and threw a grenade, which killed Menendez's sister, Josefina. Menendez was thought to be dead as well. About three years later, when trying to capture Noriega for his scheming, Hudson instead told them that it was merely a prisoner exchange. Depending on whether or not the player's choice to let Woods kill Kravchenko, Woods will hear the last words of the colonel and become suspicious to Hudson's true motives. Woods is ordered to execute a headbagged Menendez from a distance but Woods once again hears Kravchenko's words. This is intended to make the smart player suspicious (as it is really Mason whom Woods is aiming at) and either shoot Mason in the leg or head.
Dark Aether Story
In 1983, Kravchenko would be assigned leadership of Omega Group by KGB Chairman Viktor Chebrikov, with orders to prepare Omega Group to offset the potential threat of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Following this, Kravchenko orders his new forces to scourge KGB archives in search of two film reels sealed away since 1945 that contained footage of the supernatural phenomena of the Dark Aether breach at the Nazi Projekt Endstation facility. A few months later, the reels are found by Doctor Aleksandra Valentina, and after the reels are presented to the Politburo, Omega Group are authorized to launch Operation Undertaker.
As part of Operation Undertaker, Omega Group secures the abandoned Projekt Endstation site and reactivates the facility's cyclotron particle accelerator, recreating a portal to the Dark Aether while creating other smaller rifts across the world. Omega Group would soon take interest in a rift that formed in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and after making a pact with the Vietnamese government, establish Outpost 25 at the former site of Firebase Ripcord to stabilize the rift for their own expansive research into the Dark Aether and the subsequent weaponization of its resources. In June 1984 however, Outpost 25 would eventually fall to the undead after losing control of the rift, leaving Doctor William Peck, one of the only survivors, to plead for rescue. After Requiem operatives raid the overrun base and rescue Samantha Maxis, Omega reinforcements arrive to extract Peck, led personally by Kravchenko and Valentina. Upon revealing himself to Peck, Kravchenko explains that Peck must prove his true commitments to Omega and reaches for a knife before asking Peck which of his eyes was his better one.
- (Over radio) "February 4th, 1968. The stabilizing agents supplied by Doctor Clarke have met with success. Recent field tests on the local population have shown this to be the most effective strain of Nova 6 thus far. As with previous animal tests at Rebirth, the onset of symptoms in human subjects is exactly in line with our expectations. Within thirty seconds of inhaling the gas, subjects experience sudden and severe pain quickly followed by significant drop in blood pressure, leading to fever, nausea and vomiting. After sixty seconds, blistering of the skin begins, followed by scaling, peeling and discoloration across the subjects entire body...effectively signaling the onset of epidermal necrosis. At this stage, we have had limited success by way of aggressive surgical debridement in keeping subjects alive for short periods. But even the surgical removal of infected tissue is not enough to prevent further spread. While the speed of the infection appears to be consistent across adult males, we have observed a more aggressive rate of decay within infants, usually leading to mortality within thirty to forty-five seconds. We have every indication that we now have a workable formula which is effective, even in warmer climates. Communicate our successes to Doctor Steiner. Kravchenko out.
- "You again....I should have killed you in Vorkuta."
- "I left you to rot in Vietnam, Sergeant Woods. You should be dead."
- "Oh, huh huh... He's more powerful than you know. He even has people in the C.I.A."
- “Apparently not everyone shares your beautiful sentiments.”
- "I'm not a patient man, Belikov. Or a compassionate one."
- "Do you see something interesting?" While speaking with Zakhaev as Belikov approaches the two.
- "Belikov. Have you dug up my mole yet?"
- "No matter. We've discovered additional unauthorized communications. Within hours we will know the exact computer they came from." If Belikov says that he has not found the mole yet.
- "Huh... I have no idea how this got past me. Charkov will be passing through here soon. When he does, we will apprehend him."
- "General Charkov... just how long have you been spitting on Mother Russia?"
- "I do now. Your medals will no longer protect you. Please empty your pockets on the counter."
- "Really? Do you really want to know what I think? I think I want to see a demonstration of your commitment to Omega. Tell me, Doctor - which is your better eye?"
- Unlockable intel of "WMD" about GKM Analysis states that a cousin of Kravchenko took part in a massacre at Der Riese. The intel also mentioned that American soldiers went to the factory too, resulting in a standoff with Soviet troops.
- In the mission "Victor Charlie", Mason refers to Kravchenko as "General Kravchenko", despite his rank being a Colonel.
- During the "Project Nova" mission after the player meets Steiner and the player is walking to the large boat, the player can look to their right and see Kravchenko executing soldiers. When he gets to the last soldier, his pistol magazine runs out, resulting in him slitting the soldier's throat.
- In the Wii version of Project Nova, Kravchenko is wearing an ushanka.
- In the mission "Rebirth", Mason and "Reznov" are wearing Kravchenko's clothing.
- According to the intel unlockable in mission "Crash Site", Kravchenko, under the orders of Dragovich, used the villages in the border regions at Laos for field-testing the Nova 6, and after the tests littered the site with dead SOG operatives to make the carnage appear as if it was work of Americans.
- In some of the cutscenes for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a picture of Kravchenko from Project Nova is used to depict Lev. This is merely an Easter Egg.
- Lev is Russian for Lion.
- His character appearance in Call of Duty Mobile is from the mission Project Nova.
- Incidentally, he shares a birthday with his nemesis, Frank Woods.