Kiev would not share details of its operations with Washington, possibly manipulating it to maintain arms flow, NYT reported
The US government has a better understanding of the state of Russian troops in Ukraine than of Ukraine, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing US officials. Kiev is keeping its largest military sponsor in the dark, possibly even misleading Washington into protecting the generous flow of US aid to the country, the paper claimed.
According to the newspaper’s sources, the Ukrainian government is giving the US “little secret briefings or details about their operational plans”† Meanwhile, the US intelligence community’s capacity to collect data in Ukraine is limited, as the focus has long been on Russia.
“When it came to the Ukrainians, the United States has been building its intelligence agency, not spying on its government,” the report claimed. Intelligence gathering was also made more difficult by overcast weather in Ukraine, making above-ground satellites a limited tool to monitor Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine’s secrecy has forced US military and intelligence officials to try and learn what they can from other countries operating in Ukraine, training sessions with Ukrainians and [from Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s public comments,” the NYT quoted its sources as saying.
The tactic comes with the obvious caveat that any country involved in a military conflict is incentivized to project an image of strength, regardless of the actual situation on the ground. Officials in Kyiv “not wanting to present information that could encourage the United States and its other Western partners to slow the flow of weapons,” the newspaper said.
Beth Sanner, a former senior intelligence official, commented on the conundrum, saying the US intelligence community was setting a potential trap for itself.
“We’re not talking about whether Ukraine can beat” [the Russians]† And to me, I feel like we’re preparing ourselves for another information failure by not talking about it publicly,” she told the newspaper.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February after Ukraine failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols brokered by Germany and France were designed to give the breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself as a neutral country that will never join NATO’s US-led military bloc. Kiev maintains that the Russian offensive was unprovoked and denies that it intended to retake the two republics by force.