Precise American intelligence did not stop Putin, but gave Biden great advantages.

US intelligence agencies have unearthed Russian war plans. They accurately assessed President Vladimir V. Putin’s intentions and, through strategic public disclosures, complicated his efforts to create a pretext for the mobilization of his armed forces. I entered Ukraine. They had captured the time of his invasion by almost an hour.

The success of US intelligence in reading Putin and removing any element of surprise is one of the most striking developments of the crisis and has significant implications when the conflict erupts into bloodshed.

In the end, that was not enough to stop Mr. Putin from carrying out the massive offensive that took place early Thursday.

But the depth and quality of US intelligence has empowered President Biden to bring the transatlantic alliance into a united front against Moscow. It provides time to prepare waves of sanctions and other steps to impose costs on Russia, deploying troops to support NATO allies and getting Americans out of harm’s way.

And after high-profile intelligence failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other global crises over the past several decades, the accuracy of intelligence has earned the CIA and many US intelligence agencies credibility. new at home and abroad.

The result was a remarkable four months of US-led diplomacy, deterrence and information warfare, including a final attempt to disrupt Mr. Putin’s strategy by making it public. Unlike last year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, it was executed almost flawlessly. Even the Germans and other European nations that rely heavily on Russian-supplied gas have signed on to the play.

Now, with the invasion underway, administration officials are considering how to continue the information war with Russia, highlight potential war crimes, and push back against Moscow’s propaganda. about their intentions in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the discussions.

When the Biden administration released information about Russian plans over the past few months, intelligence officials tried to conceal how they gathered the documents.

It is clear, however, that intelligence agencies rely on all of their assets: a reconstructed source network in Russia, commercial and government satellites tracking Russian military movements, the ability to improved interception of communications and even selected open source documents from the Russian language. social media.

Advances in encryption and electronic interception technologies over the past decade, thanks to an increasing reliance on computer networks and mobile communications around the world, have dramatically increased the types of intelligence sought by the United States and its allies. Although Putin himself avoids the use of electronic devices, modern militaries have to communicate and soldiers carry unsecured phones in their pockets, creating multiple collection targets.

U.S. officials have leaked documents showing the suspicions Russia’s frontline commanders have about Moscow’s war plans, a testament to how closely Moscow’s military is being watched. Estimates of what Mr. Putin will do proved correct, even if many other experts guessed wrong.

The United States has found more creative ways to use its intelligence when the crisis hits. William J. Burns, director of the CIA, confronts the Russian government with war plans of their own. Avril D. Haines, director of national intelligence, shared classified intelligence with allied governments to build support for the US assessment. And the White House and State Department have publicly shared some declassified intelligence to expose Putin’s “false flag” operational plans and deny his rationale for wanting to invade.

The intelligence revelations may not have ended when the invasion had begun. The Biden administration has made it clear that it does not want to take on the business of publicly calling for Russian troop movements. But it could continue to release its information, as officials weigh various options for holding Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the discussion.

Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “Intelligence, not just from the US but from the UK and other sources, has been discovered. While intelligence agencies have “got out of their comfort zone” in releasing information, the disclosure has worked, he said.

“What it did was not only distorting Putin’s plans, but it actually helped strengthen the NATO alliance,” Warner said.

The administration should continue to disclose what it knows about Russia’s actions as the war continues, he added.

“We, the United States and the West, are not very good at mixed warfare,” Mr. Warner said. “Soviet Russia-slashing has practiced those dark arts for the past 100 years. I think we need to continue with the truth to combat Russian disinformation.”

Those ongoing efforts may involve countering Russian propaganda that sees Moscow as the defenders and liberators of the Ukrainian people, not the occupying force. It may also involve exposing potential war crimes and attempting to lie in the face of Russian claims that their war goals are limited.

John E. McLaughlin, former director of the CIA, said: “It’s not something you want to do forever or as a permanent feature of policy or it loses its novelty, but in unusual situations, birth death, it’s justifiable,” said John E. McLaughlin, former director of the CIA. “I always find that when we play against the Russians, we understand what they are doing, that they will certainly deny it but it throws them off balance knowing that we know. And I think this time confused Putin.”

Some of the information the United States shares with its allies, beginning with Haines’ trip to NATO in November, was initially greeted with skepticism, according to Western officials. Many Europeans still remember the bad intelligence surrounding the Iraq war.

But as more information became available and Russia’s war plan unfolded as Haines had predicted, European officials changed their mind. The intelligence-sharing campaign ultimately succeeded in uniting Europe and the Americas against Putin with a series of tough sanctions.

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said: “The operation was distracting and a bit annoying. However, he added, “It remains to be seen what difference it has made to his decision making.”

Republicans say Mr Biden should have adopted a more aggressive strategy in providing supplies to Kyiv. They also criticized Putin for not acting sooner when imposing tough sentences on Russia in order to change Putin’s course of action.

It will take time to see if more and better weapons can make a difference to the Ukrainian military’s defence. However, administration officials said they must act cautiously so as not to escalate the situation and not allow Putin to use the shipment of US supplies as an excuse to start a war.

More clearly, US sanctions on Mr. Putin have only gone so far. It is European sanctions against Russia and its billionaire class that really make it difficult, and it takes time and wisdom for Europe to come up with a tougher package of sanctions.

While the United States clearly has some of the best intelligence collections, if not the best in the world, it also has had a reputation that is still tarnished, at home and abroad, by war invasion of Iraq in 2003, when false information was made public. justify the war. And while the intelligence community has long been pessimistic about the survival prospects of the US-backed Afghan government, some in the administration criticized spy agencies last year for failing to accurately predict The country’s military forces will soon join the Taliban.

That reputation has raised some skepticism about Mr. Putin’s assessment of intentions, both as reporters questioned state officials for more evidence, and allies alike.

The warnings are far different this time, the information is given to try to prevent a war, not to start one. However, disclosing information is a risk. If that is proven false, intelligence agencies will have to worry with new doubts about their ability to properly collect and analyze intelligence about the enemy. That could undermine efforts to reliably warn against future threats.

Instead, the public gets a rare glimpse of an intelligence success. It is often failures, or partial failures – like Iraq, September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or the Bay of Pigs – that are broadcast over the air.

But America’s spy agencies have in fact achieved a lot of success over the years, said Nicholas Dujmovic, a former CIA historian who now teaches at Catholic University of America.

“This is a rare case where intelligence successes are made public, and the public should conclude, in my view, this is a norm,” Dr. Dujmovic said. “They’re getting a rare glimpse into the normal process and production of intelligence they wouldn’t normally see.”

Most allegations of intelligence failure are failure to properly warn of an attack or exaggerate a threat. And it was those warnings that this time proved to be foretold.

Dr Dujmovic said: “Alert analysts have the hardest time analyzing because they’re trying to figure out intent – whether the attack will happen, when it happens, it will come. like,” said Dr. Dujmovic. “The best way to get into that fog is with a human resource close to the decision maker, in this case Putin – and that is also the kind of collection that is the hardest to get.”

Intelligence agencies succeeded in deceiving Putin’s intentions early on. And it’s not an easy feat. Although the details and strength of the US source network in Russia are not made public, it is clear that Mr. Putin shares very little of his advice.

A televised meeting with Russia’s national security aides on Monday showed Mr Putin berating the chief of his foreign intelligence service for failing to confirm the recognition of breakaway regions. in Eastern Ukraine. Combined with months of American revelations, this scene suggests that the heads of America’s spy agencies, perhaps, understood Putin’s intentions better than his own intelligence officers. Precise American intelligence did not stop Putin, but gave Biden great advantages.

Fry Electronics Team

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