By Drago Bosnic | May 6, 2022
On May 4, the New York Times published a highly controversial article openly bragging about how the United States has been providing critical intelligence about the location and movement of Russian troops, which has allowed Ukrainians to target them. The publication also claims that “many Russian generals have died in action in the Ukraine as a result,” citing senior US officials. However, this is hardly news, since the US and NATO have been doing it since day one of the special military operation in Ukraine. The Russian military has been warning the political West about this issue. And yet, the US and NATO aren’t only ignoring the warnings, but are also openly bragging about their actions which are contributing to the death of Russian military personnel in Ukraine as we speak.
The claim that “many Russian generals have died” is questionable at best, but it does show the US and NATO’s determination, whose involvement is key to prolonging the conflict. An epidemic of fake news about alleged injuries or even murder of Russian High Command officers has become the mainstay, even among the once-respected Western media. According to these news outlets, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has so far survived at least two heart attacks “due to bad performance and high casualties of the Russian military” and even “Putin’s order to shoot the Defense Minister for his failures in Ukraine”.
These claims are not just outright lies, but simply ridiculous. However, they expose the mainstream media in the US and other NATO countries as an inalienable part of the military and (geo)political structure. Their reporting is designed not just to demoralize the opponent, but also to boost public morale, galvanize it and push for more support for a potential war with the targeted country or even a group of countries. This is exacerbating the already high tensions between the political West on one side and Russia and its allies on the other.
When the special military operation started, the US and NATO at least claimed their non-involvement, even though everyone knew they were involved. But the very statement they weren’t sent a message that NATO will not escalate tensions. However, this report has now changed that. By admitting effectively direct involvement in the conflict, the US and NATO are opening the door for further escalation, which most certainly will not be appreciated by Russia, whose leadership has already given strong statements regarding this issue.
The intelligence sharing is part of “a stepped-up flow” in US assistance that includes heavier weapons and billions in military supplies, demonstrating how quickly the “early American restraint” on support for Ukraine has shifted as the war enters a new stage, the NYT reported. This is further proof that the US is not interested in de-escalation. On the contrary, the latest “lethal aid” package President Biden announced is said to be $33 billion, a truly staggering sum, orders of magnitude greater than Ukraine’s annual military budget.
“The administration has sought to keep much of the battlefield intelligence secret, out of fear it will be seen as an escalation and provoke President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia into a wider war. American officials would not describe how they have acquired information on Russian troop headquarters, for fear of endangering their methods of collection. But throughout the war, the U.S. intelligence agencies have used a variety of sources, including classified and commercial satellites, to trace Russian troop movements,” the NYT report added.
This statement alone should trigger alarm across the globe. The admission that the US military and intelligence services are using commercial satellites in their operations sets a dangerous precedent which further blurs the line between civilians and the military. This comes at a time when companies such as SpaceX are accused of using their products and services, most notably the Starlink satellites, to help the Ukrainian military target Russian and DLNR units. It’s clear the US is mobilizing all of its assets in an attempt to weaken Russia. In fact, this is exactly what US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin openly stated. He went so far as to say that “we want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”
However, there are still moments when the Pentagon and State Department are giving vague and even contradictory statements regarding this issue. When asked about the intelligence being provided to the Ukrainian side, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that “we will not speak to the details of that information.” But he acknowledged that the US provides Ukraine with intelligence information. After the NYT article was published, Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said that the battlefield intelligence was not provided to the Ukrainians “with the intent to kill Russian generals.”
“Not all the strikes have been carried out with American intelligence. A strike over the weekend at a location in eastern Ukraine where Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, had visited was not aided by American intelligence, according to multiple U.S. officials. The United States prohibits itself from providing intelligence about the most senior Russian leaders,” the official said.
This statement clearly refers to the reports that the Chief of Russian General Staff, General Gerasimov was allegedly wounded in a Ukrainian strike during a visit to the frontline units. Again, this shows an almost schizophrenic nature of statements coming from US officials. First, they are bragging about the “decisive role” of their intelligence support to Ukrainians, but as soon as reports of Russian High Command officers being injured surface, they are quick to announce how this support might not be “as decisive as previously thought”.
This just goes to show how dangerous US involvement in Ukraine is. Even though we know the statements about Gerasimov are false, an obvious question arises, what if it were to happen? What if he or any other Russian High Command officer were injured in Ukraine? Does the US truly believe they could just say “it wasn’t our intelligence” in an attempt to control the level of escalation which could plunge all of us into a world-ending conflict?
Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.