US intelligence information provided to Kiev about Russian troops has been instrumental in the Ukrainian attacks targeting Russian generals. This has been confirmed on condition of anonymity by senior Washington officials to The New York Times, which also stresses that "the targeting assistance is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine". Officials have admitted that the US began providing intelligence to Ukraine prior to Russia's invasion, which began on 24 February.
US intelligence reportedly provided Ukraine with information on anticipated Russian troop movements, as well as the location and other details of generals' headquarters. This data, combined with Ukraine's own intelligence tools, such as communications interception, has led to the elimination of a total of 12 Russian army generals, a figure that has surprised military analysts.
Also noteworthy here is the use of "unsecured telephones and radios" by Russian generals, which, in the words of Frederick Hodges, former supreme commander of the US Army in Europe and current analyst at the Center for European Policy Analysis, "shows poor discipline, lack of experience, arrogance and lack of appreciation of Ukrainian capabilities". According to data published by independent Russian media and reported by The Moscow Times, at least 317 Russian officers, including two major generals, have been killed in Ukraine.
Recently released footage from Ukrainian operations near Kharkiv which resulted in regaining Ruska Lozova by the Ukrainian Special Unit Kraken & SF of Main Intelligence Directorate.— BlueSauron👁️ (@Blue_Sauron) May 4, 2022
Part 1 shows preparations, recon and mortar strikes toward Russians positions.#Russia #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/qYJ3Pkvabd
However, US officials did not specify to The New York Times how many Russian generals had died as a result of Washington's assistance. Likewise, they would not explain how they obtained information on Russian positions, although the US newspaper recalls that throughout the war different intelligence agencies have used "classified and commercial satellites" to monitor Russian troop movements.
Before the war, US intelligence also warned Kiev of "an imminent attack on Hostomel airport", one of the first bases attacked by Russian troops at the beginning of the invasion. The information provided by Washington prompted the Ukrainian army to strengthen its defences in the area, preventing Russia from maintaining control over the airfield.
The exchange of information is part of the assistance the US is sending to Ukraine during the war against Russia. On the battlefield, it is not only weapons and ammunition that are critical; data and intelligence can also play a key role in attacking enemy positions or pre-empting their movements.
However, this key assistance could also infuriate Russia, especially at a time when Moscow has expressed its rejection of Western countries sending arms to Ukraine. In this regard, the Kremlin has warned that arms shipments will be considered legitimate targets. The Biden administration has therefore sought to conceal such assistance to Ukraine for fear of increasing tensions with Russia.
Pentagon spokesman John F. Kirby declined to discuss "the specifics of that information", although he did acknowledge that the Pentagon is providing Ukraine with "information and intelligence that they can use to defend themselves". The spokeswoman for the National Security Council (NSC), Adrienne Watson, expressed a similar view, stressing to AFP that the United States provides intelligence on the battlefield "to help the Ukrainians defend their country". She also assures that this information is not transmitted "with the intention of assassinating Russian generals". For this reason, Watson has dismissed as "irresponsible" the claim that Washington is assisting Kiev in the assassination of Russian generals.
On the other hand, Evelyn Farkas, a former Defense Department official for Russia and Ukraine in the Obama administration, tells The New York Times that the US "clearly" wants the Russians to know "at some level" that they are helping the Ukrainians in this regard. Farkas also stresses that it will continue to do so. "We will give them everything they need to win, and we are not afraid of Vladimir Putin's reaction to that. We will not be self-dissuasive," she adds.
As officials told the New York media outlet, the US "forbids itself from providing intelligence on top Russian leaders". For example, the attack on Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov was carried out without US assistance, although US intelligence was "instrumental" in the deaths of other generals, officials acknowledge.
The same newspaper also reported in mid-April that the US had increased the flow of intelligence to Ukraine regarding Russian forces in the Donbas and Crimea. Through such data, the Ukrainian military could conduct more effective attacks on Russian positions in these two regions or predict their movements.
Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra