U.S. Denies Its Intelligence Helped Ukraine Kill Russian Generals

Date:12 May 2022 Author: Juandre

A dozen Russian general officers have met an early demise in Ukraine. Has the U.S. played a role in it?

The Pentagon has pushed back against a recent report that the U.S. is providing intelligence to Ukrainian forces, effectively helping them kill Russian generals with remarkable frequency. Twelve Russian generals have been killed since the start of the war in late February, an unheard of number in a world of remote-controlled, push-button warfare.

Last week, The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence was specifically enabling Ukrainian forces to target Russian generals. Unnamed senior U.S. officials took credit for the deaths, claiming that an unknown number of the 12 Russian Ground Forces generals in charge of the invasion were killed as a direct result of U.S. intel. The information was described as “critical,” and a former U.S. Army general said the number of Russian generals killed near the front line was a direct result of general officers going to the front to straighten out underperforming units.

On Thursday, Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby responded, stating, “The United States provides battlefield intelligence to help Ukraine defend their country. We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military.”

The U.S. intelligence community has turned its unblinking eye toward the Russian invasion of Ukraine, bringing satellitesdronesspy aircraft, and other assets to bear against Moscow’s war machine. Much of that information is likely in the form of spy satellite photos and communications intercepts involving specific Russian military units, discerning their location and future intentions. A spokesperson for the National Security Council (NSC) confirmed the U.S. does pass battlefield intelligence on to Ukraine, allowing its forces to prepare accordingly.

russia ukraine
A man and his daughter walk by the remnants of a Russian military helicopter on May 8, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
ALEXEY FURMANGETTY IMAGES

U.S. intelligence, for example, was critical in the early hours of the war, tipping off Ukrainian military forces that a Russian aerial assault at Hostomel airfield northwest of Ukraine was imminent. Russian air assault forces were to secure the airfield and link up with troops advancing over land, swiftly capturing Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv and decapitating the national government. Instead, Ukrainian forces were waiting for the invaders at the airfield, bottling them up and preventing a quick Russian win. Russia was then forced into a protracted conflict it had not prepared for.

an rq 4 global hawk takes off oct 24, 2018, at naval air station sigonella, italy the aircraft can reach altitudes of 60,000 feet and stay airborne for more than30 hours us air force photo by staff sgt ramon a adelan
U.S. intelligence assets, such as this RQ-4 Global Hawk taking off from Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, have kept up a silent vigil near Ukraine, collecting a steady stream of information that is passed on to the Ukrainian armed forces.
U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO BY STAFF SGT. RAMON A. ADELAN/DVIDS

Is the U.S. providing intel with the intention of killing Russian generals? The admission by the NSC means the U.S. is providing Ukraine with the locations of Russian headquarters and other units. Washington would also inform Kyiv when a Russian headquarters is seeing a higher than usual amount of helicopter, ground convoy, or communications traffic—which might indicate something important is about to happen or that someone important is visiting. Ukraine could move artillery into place to bombard the location, or send one of its precious few combat aircraft to conduct an air strike.

destroyed military vehicles seen after the battles hostomel
The wreck of a Russian airborne forces BMD infantry fighting vehicle at Hostomel airport, Ukraine. U.S. intelligence warned Ukrainian forces an attack on the airport was imminent.
SOPA IMAGESGETTY IMAGES

Killing individuals in a conflict, even generals, is inefficient. The nodes of power, like headquarters units, are much more attractive targets. Headquarters, with their staff officers, communications gear, and battle plans, are more important than individual generals. Generals naturally congregate at headquarters, and if the Ukrainians strike enough of them, the toll of dead generals will eventually add up.

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