I can easily see a Soviet boss using captured Western technology to advance Soviet might. It happened in real life, quite often (Nuclear weapons program, rockets, etc...)

But as someone who grew up in USSR, the idea that anyone in USSR would want a citizen of the USA, of all people, to be the "superhero" Winter Soldier, seems to stretch credibility.

I can see why Hydra would want to use Barnes (they care about Hydra, not the EverLasting Glory of The Homeland of Elephants). But any non-Hydra USSR boss approving the idea... well, that seems way too far-fetched even in a universe that has a talking intelligent Racoon.

Is there any in-universe explanation why a US citizen was used, instead of a proper Soviet citizen (like for Red Guardian program, for example)?

I'm OK with either MCU-specific, or comic Marvel answers

  • 1
    Maybe culpability? Blame the Americans.
    – Villan
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:42
  • 2
    @DVK-on-Ahch-To - Nope. He's a covert assassination asset. Even his identify (and existence) are a closely guarded secret.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:46
  • 12
    Deniability? If word gets out about your secret KGB assassin, it's nice to have a convenient excuse like "look, he's not even Russian!"
    – Cadence
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:53
  • 6
    I won't watch the films again just to confirm this, but according to the fan wiki he received a version of the Super Soldier Serum in Hydra custody. After that, he might be simply have been the best available raw material - after all, Winter Soldiers were brainwashed, so it doesn't really matter what and who they were before. Plus having their dirty work against the US done by an US American sounds like very Soviet idea of having fun. Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 19:23
  • 3
    I'd throw this back and posit that the Winter Soldier is not actually a 'hero' per se. He's a tool sure, but not a hero. He's kept secret. Take the Red Guardian for example, he's a publicly known and sort of celebrated super soldier.
    – Möoz
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


According to confidential files obtained by Steve Rogers in Captain America Vol. 5 #11, the comicbook version of Barnes was selected to be the Winter Soldier for two primary reasons.

Firstly, Vasily Karpov -- the head of the department directly overseeing the project -- liked the idea of turning an "American symbol" back against Russia's enemies. It's made clear in these files that he knew Barnes was formerly Captain America's partner, Bucky.


Project: Winter Soldier - June 1954

Volkov's man at MI-6, Parsifal, has proved his worth. The schematics for Advanced Robotic Appendages and Attachment he provided two months past were revolutionary. Our science team finished a working prototype and attached it to the American without incident, With the new appendage in place, clearance was given for Department X to begin work on the Winter Soldier Project.

It has long been my plan to turn this American symbol back against our enemies. He was no aid to developing our own Super-Soldiers, but he will still be a valuable tool, in the right hands.

Captain America Vol. 5 #11

enter image description here

Captain America Vol. 5 #11

The second reason Barnes was selected was "because he walk[ed] and talk[ed] just like [Americans], because he exude[d] "America" with his every breath", allowing him to move among American and Allied troops without suspicion.

It was our own experiments in Mental Implantation during Sensory Deprivation that provided the breakthrough. And because of the American's memory loss, it was quite simple. We were able to reprogram the American's mind.

We gave him a purpose, and we made him loyal to no one but us.

Once that was accomplished, we had simply to train and prepare him for a field evaluation.

Hopes are high that he will be a successful operative. I believe, because he walks and talks just like them, because he exudes "America" with his every breath, that the enemy will never see him coming.

Report - Codename: Winter Soldier - Field Test, 5 November 1954

All objectives achieved. Codename: Winter Soldier encounters no difficulty on mission.

As predicted, Americans and allies mistake him for one of their own. Allow him unimpeded entrance into West Berlin.

Winter Soldier spends evening in Berlin nightclub among many U.S. and U.K. servicemen, unsuspected.

Jeep overturns at 02:45 killing three soldiers en route to base from nightclub. Crash not investigated. Assumed drunken roadway incident.

On mission completion, Codename: Winter Soldier crosses border, returns to handlers without incident. Future assignments under evaluation.

Captain America Vol. 5 #11

enter image description here

Captain America Vol. 5 #11

  • 1
    I always thought it also had something to do with torturing Cap's sidekick. A bit like the Joker trying to reach Batman by attacking the people he cares about, as it would hit him harder.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 13:41
  • A very "Manchurian Candidate" explanation, and makes perfect sense, from that standpoint. You never have to worry about him being identified because he did something "culturally inapproriate," because it's his own culture that he's infiltrating.
    – Deacon
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 14:45

Bucky was a weapon of HYDRA, a secret super assassin. He was not a USSR creation. Arnim Zola created Bucky whilst working for Schmidt back during the war. As he’s a weapon of HYDRA he does not fall under the jurisdiction of any country either.

Arnim Zola: Sergeant Barnes... The procedure has already started. You are to be the new fist of HYDRA.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

  • 2
    I'd push it even further and say he wasn't a hero at all
    – Möoz
    Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 2:25
  • I gather the question is asking about both MCU and the comics. In the comics he was found by the USSR and turned into the winter soldier. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 22:41

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