The United States is supporting Ukraine’s defense with billions of dollars worth of arms. Just last week, US President Biden confirmed that he would deliver the Himars missile system, which can be used to fire projectiles with a range of several hundred kilometers.
Surprisingly, after more than 100 days of war, according to the New York Times, the US secret services have little information about Ukraine’s war strategy and planned operations. Much more is known about the Russian military: plans, operations, successes and defeats in Russia are known, New York Times officials say.
US intelligence chief Avril D. Haines also testified before the Senate last month: “We probably have more information on the Russian side than on the Ukrainian side.”
So far, the Ukrainian government has given Washington little classified information about military action. Ukrainian officials also admit they have not informed the US of all plans. On the Ukrainian side, there is concern that Russian troops could exploit information about military strategies.
US intelligence focuses primarily on enemy governments, and Russia has been a priority for American spies for 75 years. In Ukraine, on the other hand, the focus was on building up the intelligence services and not spying on the government.
Another reason is curious: bad weather also prevents, for example, photo reconnaissance with satellites.
The United States should collect information about Ukraine’s planned actions from other countries, from Ukrainians who have American military training and from Zelenskyy’s public statements, writes the “NYT”.
The resulting information gap could make it more difficult for the US government to make targeted decisions about the necessary military aid, says intelligence chief Haines. It is “difficult to say” how many weapons Ukraine actually needs.
However, according to US Department of Defense officials, there is a reliable way to get the right weapons to the right places. Ukraine would first request weapons and the US would then assess what form of military assistance is needed and can actually be assured.
Ukraine’s strategic approach in the Donbass is now decisive for further arms deliveries. Will Zelenskyy withdraw his troops there or does he risk being encircled by Russia? An expert told the NYT that Ukraine had to justify both decisions to the United States.
In the past few days, the Ukrainian government’s communication strategy seems to have changed somewhat. In a public statement, Selenskyj called the fighting extremely difficult and commented on the high losses in the Ukrainian military.
These statements are unusual because, according to US officials, the Ukrainian president wants to appear strong towards the public and his partners. That’s why he rarely shares information that could indicate the defeat of his own troops. Ukrainian officials fear that Western partners could then cut back on their arms supplies.
Despite Ukraine’s good reasons for wanting to keep some information secret, a former secret service employee in the “NYT” warns of the information gaps. There is too little talk about whether Ukraine is even capable of defeating Russia. In the end, the secret services could be held responsible for not having provided a complete picture of the situation.