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Months before Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States already knew the details of Moscow’s plan of action. But the most senior American leaders have failed to convince their allies of the imminence of the attack (file photo taken at the White House in February 2021).
WAR IN UKRAINE – The United States knew practically everything, as of October 2021, of the Russian plan invasion of Ukraine, finally triggered on February 24. And despite this, they failed to convince their alliesnor even the Ukrainians moreover, of the possibility of attack. Here is what what does the washington post in a long survey published this Tuesday, August 16.
Compiling satellite photographs, communications intercepted in Russia and human intelligence obtained in the upper echelons of political power such as in the ranks of the Moscow army, the American secret services effectively warned very early that a major plan was developed, much more ambitious than the annexation of Crimea in 2014 or an attack in the separatist regions of Donbass, in the east of the country.
Adding to this behavioral analyzes of Vladimir Putin, “who, going to celebrate his 69th birthday, understood that he was running out of time to become one of the outstanding leaders in the history of Russia”, American intelligence thus convened meetings of prime importance as early as October. In front of Joe BidenVice President Kamala Harristhe Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs and the Chief of Staff, they warned in October 2021: “ All the pieces are in place for a massive assault. »
A detailed action plan by menu
At that time, large troop movements toward the approaches to Ukraine and the stockpiling of ammunition, food, and other resources needed for an invasion signaled to the Americans that an attack was imminent. even if they did not have the precise day of its launch.
As always reported washington postwho interviewed intelligence sources, Ukrainian and American leaders and members of NATO, the United States very early on had a plan that looked very similar to what Vladimir Putin’s troops.
According to information transmitted to Joe Biden in October, Russia had on the one hand planned to encircle kyiv from the north and the east, progressing in particular through the exclusion zone around Chernobyl. Taking advantage of the winter and the icy ground to advance quickly, the objective was to take the Ukrainian capital in three or four days, and to capture Volodymyr Zelensky to replace him with a puppet president. At the same time, Moscow wanted to use troops based in Crimea and on the eastern border of Ukraine to take possession of the entire southeast of the country.
Once this first phase was accomplished, Russia aimed to reduce the Ukrainian state to its most western portion, deemed too anti-Russian to be conquered and occupied. Russia, meanwhile, would have controlled a large eastern part of the country, from Moldova in the south to Belarus in the north. ” A plan of astounding audacity “, evoke the American intelligence in the report, which could even have” destroy the architecture of post-WWII Europe “.
The skepticism of allies and Ukrainians
Except that the United States then found itself faced with a puzzle. Refusing to engage alone in aid to Ukraine, with the delicate balance of doing enough so that it is not defeated, and not too much so as not to give the impression of entering into open conflict with Russia, at the same time they came up against the skepticism of their allies. And to the failure of negotiations with Vladimir Putin’s entourage, to whom they have repeatedly explained that they knew of his invasion plan.
At the end of October, Joe Biden nevertheless transmitted some sensitive information to his closest allies: France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Then in mid-November, Avril Haines, the first woman to head the national intelligence of the United States, spoke to the members of NATO to deliver to them elements of the intelligence services. “But only the British and the Baltic countries were ready to react and arm Ukraine”relates a source to the washington post. Avril Haines herself recalls in the article that ” there were many questions about the possibility of Vladimir Putin embarking on an invasion of such magnitude “. ” They were like ‘He’s not gonna invade, that’s crazy adds a Biden administration executive.
Thus, French and Germans refused to believe that “alone” 80-90,000 troops could be enough to invade a country as vast and populated as Ukraine. Especially since their confidence in American intelligence had been shattered by the fiasco of the war in Iraq, and more recently by the disastrous departure of American troops from Afghanistan, even though the Americans claimed a few days before that the local authorities had ways to resist the Taliban.
To explain the distrust of Washington’s allies is also added the fact that the Americans have provided little proof of what they are saying. For fear of interception of this data and because they feared that once made aware, the Ukrainians could try themselves to attack the Russian positions and thus to precipitate an escalation, they thus preferred to limit the information transmitted to their allies.
Last element: they also doubted the ability of Volodymyr Zelensky, “a former television comedian who had lost popular support because of his inability to obtain peace with Russia”, to manage a conflict facing such a rival. . As a result, the invasion finally unleashed in February against a Ukraine perhaps far from being as prepared as it could have been.
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