Ukraine Leaks: Has the Pentagon Gone Rogue on Biden?
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The White House is continuing to reel from the publication of tranches of classified intelligence documents on the situation in Ukraine and other sensitive matters. Kiev officials rushed to blame Russia for the leaks. However, veteran intelligence expert Gregory Copley says they likely came from within the corridors of power in Washington.
US officials are scrambling to find the culprits behind the leak of troves of highly sensitive security assessments which appeared to reveal some unpleasant hard truths about the NATO-Russia proxy war in Ukraine, with both the Pentagon and the Department of Justice launching probes to try to root out the leakers.
Officials in Kiev have dismissed the documents, which expose severe weaknesses in Ukraine’s air defenses, staggering Ukrainian losses and Russian casualties far below previously-released Ukrainian and Pentagon estimates, calling them “Russian propaganda” and accusing Moscow of doctoring them. The Kremlin dismissed the tendency to “always blame everything on Russia” as a “disease” suffered by adversaries.
But the likely leakers are much closer to home, with their motives related to the growing disconnect between the Biden administration’s fantastical view of the Ukrainian crisis and the somber reality, intelligence expert Gregory Copley believes.
“The leaks are damaging to the Biden administration simply because they highlight the degree of reality which is now becoming available to audiences around the world. The Biden administration had attempted to portray this as a war which Ukraine could win with just a little help from Washington and from the Europeans. That clearly is no longer the case. Certainly, the Biden administration had attempted to portray the Russian position as being one of massive loss. Therefore, it was unsustainable and unwinnable for Moscow. That’s no longer seen as the case. From the beginning within many sections of the Western national security fields, there have been people in defense and intelligence in the US and Western Europe and so on who have felt that the Biden administration’s insistence on supporting Ukraine was being done at the expense of showing a strong and resolute face to Beijing,” the observer told Sputnik.
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Copley, president of the International Strategic Studies Association, a Washington-based think tank specializing in national and international security and strategic policy, and founder of the Global Information System – a private intelligence service catering to governments, says that behind the scenes, support for Ukraine among various agencies in Washington has been “fracturing” for some time.
“Yes, the Biden White House and State Department continue to be very strong on providing support for President Zelensky and Ukraine. But much of the rest of the administration, including the Defense Department and so on, have some reservations about what this is doing to American preparedness and, of course, also the cost of supporting Ukraine, especially when it was evident that there are opportunities to seek a negotiated end to the conflict,” the observer explained.
Saying it’s “impossible” to say at this stage who leaked the information, Copley pointed out that there are many actors in DC who may have had the capacity and motive to do so. “The sort of information would have been fairly broadly distributed within the administration, and because there are so many people frustrated with the White House’s attitude toward Ukraine, there are a lot of people who would have been happy to see this information become public.”
At the same time, the Pentagon could not express any frustration with Biden out in the open, owing to the chain of command and the fact that public criticism of the commander-in-chief is out of the question for active duty officers, Copley noted.
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But the DoD’s growing skepticism isn’t hard to explain, according to the observer, from its position on the comparative long-term threat to the US posed by Russia and China, to the military’s awareness that decades of creeping NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, and attempts to swallow Ukraine, would inevitably provoke a response from the Russian bear.
The veteran security analyst says he has consciously sought to convey in his advisory capacity to US military audiences that Kiev and its Western patrons simply don’t have the same “strategic depth” and “existential necessary” for victory that Moscow does.
“The point we’ve made in Washington is that Russia needs to maintain its access through its traditional territories down to the Black Sea, as well as over into the Pacific through the Russian Far Eastern territories, if it is to remain a unified global power. Without access to the warm waters of the Black Sea, without access to the Pacific and for that matter to the Baltic, Russia would find it very difficult to sustain its long term position as a great power. So, Russia cannot afford to lose this war. Therefore, it will throw all necessary resources for however long it takes in order to ensure that it prevails in this war against Kiev,” Copley emphasized.
As for Kiev, he noted, the Zelensky government “literally can only fight this war as long as the United States supplies it with money and technology,” and “even then, the results would only be deferring the inevitable” Russian victory.
Saying he could only speculate on what the leakers of the documents were trying to achieve, Copley suggested that the goal may have been to inject “a tone of realism” into the public discussion on Ukraine, and perhaps bring the prospect of peace talks closer to reality.
“Until now, all Western policy toward the war and towards supporting Ukraine has been done on the basis of very, very selective and biased propaganda which reinforced the White House’s message that Russia must be defeated and Ukraine must be defended. That was unrealistic from the beginning. Now we are seeing a much more detailed, complex and balanced discussion beginning to emerge in the West about the importance of this war, or the relative importance of this war, and the ramifications of the war for the global strategic posture as a whole,” the observer summed up.
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