Crisis in Ukraine: US Intelligence Didn’t Stop Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, But They Brought the Western Bloc Together | International
Six days passed from when US President Joe Biden said he believed Vladimir Putin had already made the decision to invade Ukraine on February 18 until the Russian offensive became effective in the early hours of February 24. The Biden administration had warned for weeks that the Russian president had made all the necessary preparations for the attack. Intelligence services had collected and shared detailed real-time information on the movement of Russian troops across the border. They also knew of the Kremlin’s plan to fabricate an excuse in the form of a “false flag” attack to justify its incursion into Ukraine.
US intelligence has removed the surprise factor from the equation. He helped prepare the synchronized wave of sanctions against the Kremlin and facilitated the evacuation of American citizens in Ukraine. He also played a role in the deployment of reinforcement troops to NATO member countries in Eastern Europe and ultimately helped shape public opinion, which is unanimous in its condemnation of the war.
Nearly two decades after the controversial invasion of Iraq with the never-proven argument of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, US intelligence has now won a victory, albeit one without any redemptive role and which did not prevent the attack: Putin is already besieging the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, unfazed by the civilian casualties. But US intelligence helped rally allies against the Kremlin threat and bought time to develop an unprecedented and coordinated sanctions program on multiple fronts. However, none of this has helped stop what appears to be the greatest risk of world war of the past 80 years.
“The quality of American espionage is beyond our reach, they have infiltrated every corner of Moscow, and it is clear that they sincerely fear that something could happen,” a senior told this newspaper in early February. European official in Washington. At that time, European authorities were still using a very different tone from their American counterparts. While the Americans considered withdrawing diplomats from Ukraine, their partners in Europe said there were insufficient grounds to do so. While Washington was laying out the arsenal of sanctions it was ready to apply, Brussels was hiding its cards.
In any case, at that time, Washington was not yet certain that Moscow had made the decision to invade; but he was sure that Putin had a perfectly conceived plan, and that he wanted to do it. On January 28, Pentagon officials warned that Russia had full military capability to invade the entire country, with around 130,000 troops on the Ukrainian border – a number not seen since the Cold War era. “Several options are available to you [Putin]said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. “Including the seizure of cities and significant territories” as well as “provocative political acts such as the recognition of separatist territories”.
Ukraine’s own President, Volodymir Zelenskiy, warned the West against spreading ‘alarmist’ messages about an impending attack, which, together with Russia’s continued denials, helped create doubt about the veracity information manipulated by the allies. Time has dispelled these suspicions in an atrocious way.
On February 21, Putin recognized the sovereignty of the pro-Russian territories of Donetsk and Luhansk as two new independent republics and ordered the first Russian soldiers to cross the border to “keep the peace” and protect the population there, whom the Kremlin portrayed them as victims. of “genocide” by Kiev. Putin condemned the terrorist attacks in the region. Barely 48 hours later, in the middle of a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York (before dawn on February 24 in Ukraine), the Russian President declared war on Ukraine under the euphemism of “operation special military.
The first warnings that such a thing could happen had reached the White House in October during secret meetings of the national security team. The mess of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan is very recent, as is the conflict arising from the military agreement on the development of submarines signed with the United Kingdom and Australia without informing the European allies. Biden then tried to contain European suspicions and opted to share intelligence findings with his partners across the Atlantic (Germany and other EU states that rely heavily on Russian gas took the information and acted Consequently) ; and then with public opinion. After that, he boosted the amount of US aid to Ukraine.
Always ahead of the Kremlin, the American intelligence services have also had to deal with disinformation, a fundamental component of hybrid warfare, topped by a more traditional component: sabotage operations. In late January, Washington warned that Russia was planning a false flag attack on its forces in eastern Ukraine as an excuse to invade the former Soviet republic. A month later, Moscow used alleged terrorist acts in Donetsk and Luhansk to justify the “special military operation” that brought the world to the brink. Kremlin continues to use sabotage lure as disinformation tool: Friday’s fire at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was caused by ‘Ukrainian sabotage’ to shift blame onto Moscow, Russian ambassador to EU says UN. Satellite data has refuted this claim.
The accuracy of American intelligence on this subject is due to a conjunction of elements: a reconstructed information network on the ground in Russia; government and commercial satellites — like those from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies — that track troop movements; the improved ability to intercept communications, and even open source material extracted from Russian social media.
According to The New York Times, improvements in cryptology and electronic interception technology over the past decade, coupled with a growing global reliance on computer networks and mobile communications, have increased the amount of resources available. Even though Vladimir Putin avoids the use of electronic devices, his soldiers carry unsecured cell phones in their pockets, multiplying the targets for data collection.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers recently viewed the forecast’s accuracy as a well-deserved endorsement of the intelligence community, which had been criticized for fiascos in Afghanistan or, in 2003, for Saddam’s alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Hussein.
In the United States, some argue that Washington and Kiev could have done more with such abundant intelligence, which the Biden administration shared with Zelenskiy despite some initial reservations. The White House shared its intelligence with Ukraine even before Russia began assembling troops last year and accelerated the exchange of information during the crisis. The US government lifted its usual restrictions on sharing its findings with the Ukrainians, and then with the allies.
Even so, the United States and Ukraine have often disagreed publicly and privately over the nature and extent of the Russian threat, as well as what action to take. Zelenskiy only mobilized the reservists on February 23, the day before the invasion, when he declared a 30-day state of emergency.