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U.S. intelligence agencies are deeply concerned about a steady flow of leaks pointing to extensive assistance by the United States, helping Ukraine score some of its biggest victories of the war.
On Thursday, several news outlets reported on assistance by U.S. intelligence agencies giving the Ukrainian military information on Russian units that have allowed Ukrainians to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in the war. Moscow has acknowledged at least 12 general officers were killed — more generals than died in World War II.
Then on Friday, some blabbermouth told the Washington Post that the U.S. gave information to the Ukrainians that allowed them to sink the Moskva — the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet. The Biden administration is denying that such assistance was given — at least in every instance. But more worrisome than the deliberate provocation of killing high-ranking Russian general officers is the stupidity that someone is bragging about it.
“It’s stupid, it’s unnecessary. There’s no upside, only downside,” a European official told Politico. “It looks like the Americans are trying to take credit for what the Ukrainians are doing.”
Speculation abounded across the Washington, D.C., natsec and intel communities that the administration was intentionally rubbing salt in the Kremlin’s wound. Turns out none of this is a coordinated leak by President Joe Biden’s team: “Someone is eager to take credit, but it’s not helpful,” a U.S. official told NatSec Daily. Others we spoke to revealed there’s an internal freakout over the stream of stories, though it’s unclear exactly who is feeding reporters the juicy nuggets.
Instead of boasting, a parade of administration officials have denied the direct link between the shared intelligence and targets, saying that U.S. military and intel assets merely tell Kyiv where the Russians are generally headed and where the next offensive might take place. What Ukrainian forces do with that information is up to them.
Politico is far too eager to deny that Biden’s team is in any way involved in the leaks. Stating as fact that “none of this is a coordinated leak by President Joe Biden’s team” is an unsupported claim. In truth, Politico — like those in the intelligence community they spoke with — has no clue who is leaking. Why dismiss the possibility of White House involvement?
The fact that the leaks are correctly characterized as “stupid” and “unnecessary” points to politics, not national security. And when you have a president in mortal danger of losing his grip on power, any exigency becomes justifiable — including breaking national security laws.
The intelligence the U.S. provides can get specific but not in every instance, multiple Western officials say. Ukrainian forces still have a lot to do after, for example, receiving information about a ping off a cell tower before finding the Russian invaders.
So to paraphrase the administration’s stance: We point the Ukrainians in the direction of Russians to kill, but we don’t provide intelligence with the express purpose of killing specific Russians.
That’s why Biden aides have pushed back so forcefully on the growing narrative.
Biden aides are panicking because the more it appears America is involved in this war, the angrier Putin and the Russians become. Putin is likelier to dig in his heels on negotiations with President Zelensky and double down on his eastern offensive in Ukraine.
It’s possible that this is happening because some White House blabbermouth wants to make Biden look good.