Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

On Feb. 22, 2022, I will always remember how I joined U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a secure room in the State Department for a meeting of cabinet-level and other senior members of the National Security Council (NSC). A customary intelligence briefing at the top of the meeting contained a stark warning: Russia was about to start its expected full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The United States had been strategically downgrading and declassifying intelligence to warn Ukraine and the world about Russia’s plans in the preceding months. That night at the State Department, NSC leadership concluded that we needed to share our new urgent threat information with Ukraine immediately. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was in the building following earlier meetings with Blinken, so Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines asked me and Haines’s deputy for analysis, Morgan Muir, to leave the NSC meeting and work with intelligence agencies to clear language that could be shared with Ukraine. After receiving clearances, we located Kuleba on the seventh floor of the State Department and relayed the news. Kuleba called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to prepare their nation for war.

Exposing Russian plans in advance did not avert war, but U.S. intelligence disclosures enabled Ukraine to defend itself, mobilized allies and partners to support Kyiv, undermined Russian disinformation in the eyes of the public, and restored the credibility of U.S. intelligence, and of the United States, in the eyes of the world. This evolution, in scale, scope, and speed, marked a turning point in the global credibility of the U.S. intelligence community, the 18 agencies that conduct intelligence activities to support U.S. national security interests. Intelligence disclosures played a central role in enabling the U.S. and allied response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. policy intent was clear and principled: to prevent war. U.S. intelligence on Russia and Ukraine was, and continues to be, specific, consistent, and accurate. Under Blinken’s leadership, the State Department has worked to infuse more diplomacy with intelligence, taking a deliberate approach and working closely with the intelligence community. This approach has allowed opportunities to use downgraded or declassified intelligence in international engagements, public remarks, or diplomatic demarches.

By admin

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