US and UK intelligence warnings vindicated by Russian invasion | Russia

It was in early November that US president Joe Biden took the rare step to dispatch CIA director Bill Burns to Moscow. The spy chief’s message – in part – was to warn his Kremlin counterparts that the West was concerned about unusual troop movements it was seeing near Ukraine’s border.

British officials were anxious, too. “We keep on coming back to crises over Ukraine,” one said later that month. “President Biden does not send Bill Burns to Moscow unless he is very worried about something. And so, you know, without being able to go into the full details, there is enough substance to this to make us concerned.”

A few days later, in early December, the Washington Post reported that US intelligence had found that the Kremlin was “planning a multi-front offensive as soon as early next year involving up to 175,000 troops”, from the north, east and south.

Why has Putin's Russia waged war on Ukraine?  – video explainer
Why has Putin’s Russia waged war on Ukraine? – video explainer

The intelligence warnings continued into January, increasingly to the irritation of Kyiv, whose president Volodymyr Zelenskiy complained that acute tensions with Russia were nothing new. “We have been in the situation for eight years,” he said at the time, referring to the start of the 2014 war with Russian-backed separatists.

At the time, some were considered outlandish. Britain warned that Russia was contemplating a coup plot, involving four exiled politicians, while the US said plans were afoot to create a pretext for an invasion using a “very graphic” fake video of a Ukrainian attack. It turned out that Russia did try to create false pretexts, but with none of the production values ​​– or credibility – the US warning implied.

The debacle of the buildup to the war in Iraq, where claims of weapons of mass destruction turned out to be baseless, has hung over US and UK agencies for two decades. This time, unfortunately, their warnings about Vladimir Putin’s intentions have proved uncannily accurate.

Leave a Comment