US treads carefully when it comes to intelligence exchange in Ukraine

US treads carefully when it comes to intelligence exchange in Ukraine

US treads carefully when it comes to intelligence exchange in Ukraine
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According to sources familiar with the intelligence sharing, the Biden administration has increased the amount of intelligence it shares with Kyiv two months into Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has contributed to successful strikes against senior Russian leaders and the Russian Navy’s flagship, the Moskva.

However, the initiative raises doubts about how far the White House is ready to go to assist Ukraine in fighting the Russians while also avoiding offending Moscow and becoming embroiled in the crisis.

Officials from the Obama administration insist that there are clear limits to the intelligence shared with Ukraine, including a prohibition on providing precision targeting intelligence for senior Russian leaders by name, as part of a White House effort to avoid crossing a line that Moscow may see as too escalatory.

However, some current and former officials have stated that the boundaries set by the Biden administration are arbitrary, in part because the final consequence is the same: Ukrainian strikes that kill important Russian officials. Furthermore, any US estimate of what acts would trigger Moscow is based solely on the thinking of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“You’re trying to put on your Vladimir Putin hat and try to see, what does he see as crossing a red line?” said retired Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “That red line is one that probably exists only in Putin’s head — and it may not be something that he’s even thought his way through or conveyed.”

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According to sources familiar with the administration’s strategy, choices to progressively extend the intelligence it is ready to offer have been based mainly on the opinions of Biden administration officials, rather than shifting evaluations of how escalators Russia could regard a certain action.

 

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