While President Biden meekly tries to ‘de-escalate’ tensions with Russia over Ukraine, the Pentagon is developing a plan to provide Ukraine with battlefield intelligence to help the country quickly respond to a Russian incursion. This vital intelligence sharing, if approved by Biden, will likely rankle Russia, which has portrayed any American military aid to Ukraine as provocative.
Despite Biden’s weak overall approach to the Putin threat to Ukraine, reports the New York Times (NYT):
…the Biden administration is seeking to project support for the former Soviet republic’s independence from Moscow and its territorial integrity. The United States and its allies have warned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that an invasion would bring both economic pain for his country, in the form of sanctions, and military losses.
Some of the actions have included another delivery of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, initially blocked by Obama-Biden, but begun under President Trump in 2018. A small Pentagon team also recently visited Ukraine to evaluate the country’s air defense needs, and other more imaginative proposals. The NYT explains:
The list of ideas being drawn up at the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House include redirecting helicopters and other military equipment once allocated for the Afghan military to Ukraine, officials said. The administration is also considering sending additional cyberwarfare experts to Ukraine. The United States and Britain have sent some experts to shore up defenses in case Mr. Putin launches a cyberstrike on Ukraine either in advance or instead of a ground invasion.
But the proposal at the Pentagon for “actionable” intelligence is potentially more significant, two U.S. officials said. The information would include images of whether Russian troops were moving to cross the border. Such information, if shared in time, could enable the Ukrainian military to head off an attack.
However, there is one big risk in providing Ukraine with this intelligence – A Ukrainian pre-emptive strike. NYT Adds:
“The number one thing we can do is real time actionable intelligence that says, ‘The Russians are coming over the berm,’” said Evelyn Farkas, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia in the Obama administration. “We tell them, and they use that to target the Russians.”
She said that “we’ve been nervous about that in the past.”
One potential problem with providing actionable intelligence, American officials acknowledge, is that it could lead Ukraine to strike first — the sort of scenario Western officials believe that Mr. Putin has been trying to sell to the Russian public.
That could give Vladimir Putin the propaganda advantage as he paints Ukraine as the aggressor. ADN