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The Bigger Winner in the Ukraine War: The CIA and U.S. Intel Community?

Bayraktar TB2 Drone. Image Credit: Ukraine Military.
Bayraktar TB2 Drone of the Ukrainian Air Force.

One of the “winners” so far in the war in Ukraine has been the U.S. Intelligence Community. Starting in the Fall, the U.S. intelligence agencies accurately predicted the plans and intentions of the Russian President Vladimir Putin with regard to Ukraine.

There were several times before the Russian forces invaded on February 24 in which the U.S. Intelligence Community publicly shared intelligence on the Russian plans.

Putin’s War & U.S. Intelligence

“The last chapter in Putin’s war has yet to be written, as he grinds away in Ukraine. I have no doubt about the cruel pain and damage that Putin can continue to inflict on Ukraine, or the raw brutality with which Russian force is being applied,” CIA Director Joe Burns said during an event at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“By being open with some of our secrets, we made it harder for Putin to obscure the truth of his unprovoked and vicious aggression,” Burns said, referring to the intelligence community’s strategy to declassify intelligence before the war.

As the Russian military is ready to pounce in eastern Ukraine and capture the Donbas, the U.S. has increased intelligence sharing with the Ukrainian military and security services.

“We are intensely sharing timely intelligence with the Ukrainians to help them defend themselves throughout their country, including in areas held by Russia before the 2022 invasion,” a U.S. intelligence official told CBS News.

Now the U.S. will provide Ukraine with targeting data for Russian targets in the Donbas too, thereby making it easier for the Ukrainian military to defend against the imminent Russian offensive there.

“When he launched his war seven weeks ago, Putin was proven wrong on each of those counts. But Ukrainian will is unbroken, and Putin’s Russia has inflicted massive material and reputational damage on itself,” the CIA director added.

The CIA director had a rare opportunity to witness the Russian decision making process in person when he visited Moscow in November. Then, the Kremlin was slowly building up hundreds of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border, but whether it would use them to invade and topple the Ukrainian government was uncertain.

“While it did not yet seem that he had made an irreversible decision to invade Ukraine, Putin was defiantly leaning in that direction, apparently concerned that his window was closing for shaping Ukraine’s orientation,” Burns said.

A Wounded Animal Is The Most Dangerous 

The CIA director said that Putin demonstrates every day that declining powers have the same potential for disruption as rising ones, like China.

For years now, the U.S. Intelligence Community has assessed that although Russia is on the decline as a big power, it still has the potential to cause trouble to the U.S. and the international rules-based system. The illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is stark evidence of that malicious capability.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.