US Reportedly Mulls Giving Ukraine Battlefield Intel Which Kiev Could Use for First Strike on Russia
11:38 GMT 25.12.2021 (Updated: 17:52 GMT 01.01.2022)
© AP Photo / Markiv Mykhailo / PoolUkrainian soldiers get new tanks and other military vehicles at a military base in the eastern town of Chuguyev, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
© AP Photo / Markiv Mykhailo / Pool
Western officials and media have spent months claiming that Russia is building up troops on Ukraine’s border in possible preparation for an invasion. At his annual year-end presser on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the allegations, saying that unlike NATO, Russia’s military is operating within the country’s own borders.
The Pentagon is considering giving Ukraine real-time “actionable” battlefield intelligence which would allow the Ukrainian military to quickly respond to a potential Russian invasion, but which also carries the risk of a preemptive first strike by Kiev, the New York Times reports, citing Biden administration officials.
The paper’s sources say the data would include real-time information such as images of Russian troops “moving across the border,” which NY claims “could enable the Ukrainian military to head off an attack” if shared in time.
One person said US intelligence agencies are already giving Ukraine more data than before the suspected “Russian buildup,” which Western officials and media began reporting on earlier this year.
NYT’s sources admitted that one sticking point for giving Ukraine the real-time intelligence data was the danger of a Ukrainian first strike directed against Russia.
“The number one thing we can do is real time actionable intelligence that says, ‘The Russians are coming over the berm’,” former Obama-era deputy assistant secretary of defence Evelyn Farkas told the newspaper. “We tell them, and they use that to target the Russians,” she said.
Along with intelligence support, sources say Washington has proposed redirecting helicopters and other equipment salvaged from Afghanistan to the Ukrainians, and the deployment of additional cyberwarfare experts to the Eastern European country.
24 December 2021, 14:09 GMT
Moscow has dismissed claims that it has any intentions to “invade” anyone, Ukraine included, and has accused the US and its allies of deliberately seeking to push its client government in Kiev into a crusade to “fight Russia to the last Ukrainian”.
At his year-end press conference Thursday, Vladimir Putin slammed the US and its allies for hyping up “Russian aggression” while pushing closer and closer to the country’s frontiers.
“We remember...how you promised us in the 1990s that [NATO] would not move an inch to the East. You cheated us shamelessly: there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and now the weapons systems I mentioned have been deployed in Poland and deployment has recently begun in Poland…We are not threatening anyone. Have we approached US borders? Or the borders of Britain or any other country? It is you who have come to our border, and now you say that Ukraine will become a member of NATO as well. Or, even if it does not join NATO, that military bases and strike systems will be placed on its territory under bilateral agreements. This is the point,” Putin said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry submitted a pair of draft security agreements to the US and NATO last week outlining how Moscow, Washington and the Western bloc could resolve the current tensions. Among the proposals is the provision that NATO halt any further eastward expansion, and nix the incorporation of Kiev into the alliance.
US officials have signalled their readiness to hold talks with Russia about the security proposals in January, but have made no firm commitments. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg appeared to reject the idea, claiming that the alliance never made any promises to Moscow not to expand, and saying the alliance and its partners, including Ukraine, must be included in any security talks with Russia.