• Road to war: U.S. struggled to convince allies, and Zelensky, of risk of invasion

    Presented with the new intelligence and analysis at the October [2021] briefing, Biden “basically had two reactions,” Sullivan said. First, to try to deter Putin, they “needed to send somebody to Moscow to sit with the Russians at a senior level and tell them: ‘If you do this, these will be the consequences.’ ”

    Second, they needed to brief allies on the U.S. intelligence and bring them on board with what the administration believed should be a unified and severe posture of threatened sanctions against Russia, reinforcement and expansion of NATO defenses, and assistance for #Ukraine.

    Burns was dispatched to Moscow and Haines to NATO headquarters in Brussels.

    • le #paywall se contourne aisément en désactivant js

      Less than two weeks after the Glasgow meeting, when Kuleba and Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, visited the State Department in Washington, a senior U.S. official greeted them with a cup of coffee and a smile. “Guys, dig the trenches!” the official began.
      “When we smiled back,” Kuleba recalled, the official said, “ ‘I’m serious. Start digging trenches. … You will be attacked. A large-scale attack, and you have to prepare for it.’ We asked for details; there were none.

      If the Americans became frustrated at Ukraine’s skepticism about Russia’s plans, the Ukrainians were no less disconcerted at the increasingly public U.S. warnings that an invasion was coming.”

      But Paris and Berlin remembered emphatic U.S. claims about intelligence on Iraq. The shadow of that deeply flawed analysis hung over all the discussions before the invasion. Some also felt that Washington, just months earlier, had vastly overestimated the resilience of Afghanistan’s government as the U.S. military was withdrawing. The government had collapsed as soon as the Taliban entered Kabul.
      “American intelligence is not considered to be a naturally reliable source,” said François Heisbourg, a security expert and longtime adviser to French officials. “It was considered to be prone to political manipulation.”
      The Europeans began to settle into camps that would change little for several months.
      “I think there were basically three flavors,” a senior administration official said. To many in Western Europe, what the Russians were doing was “all coercive diplomacy, [Putin] was just building up to see what he could get. He’s not going to invade … it’s crazy.”
      Many of NATO’s newer members in eastern and southeastern Europe thought Putin “may do something, but it would be limited in scope,” the official said, “ … another bite at the [Ukrainian] apple,” similar to what happened in 2014.

      But Britain and the Baltic states, which were always nervous about Russian intentions, believed a full-scale invasion was coming.

      When skeptical member states asked for more intelligence, the Americans provided some, but held back from sharing it all.
      Historically, the United States rarely revealed its most sensitive intelligence to an organization as diverse as NATO, primarily for fear that secrets could leak. While the Americans and their British partners did share a significant amount of information, they withheld the raw intercepts or nature of the human sources that were essential to determining Putin’s plans. That especially frustrated French and German officials, who had long suspected that Washington and London sometimes hid the basis of their intelligence to make it seem more definitive than it really was.

    • Conséquence directe de l’article : on reproche en Ukraine à Zelensky d’avoir minimisé les risques d’invasion et de ne pas avoir suffisamment préparé le pays à la guerre. Zelensky prétend avoir voulu éviter une panique qui aurait fait fuir les gens et affaiblit l’économie, rendant alors une défaite certaine.

      Zelensky faces outpouring of criticism over failure to warn of war

      The level of outrage is unprecedented in wartime Ukraine, she said, and represents perhaps “the first serious communication crisis” for Zelensky, regarded as a master communicator, and his team.

      Even those who said they understood why Zelensky didn’t want to provoke panic said they nonetheless wondered whether there were steps that could have been taken to alleviate the impact of the invasion — from preparing blood banks to digging trenches along the northern border to prevent Russian troops from overrunning many towns and villages before they were halted outside Kyiv.