Sun. May 29th, 2022

EU and NATO allies have swung behind the Biden administration’s assessment that Russia may be ready Ukraine invasion, following unprecedented section of US intelligence on Moscow’s military preparations.

Weeks of sustained US diplomatic engagement with European governments, backed by a piece of intelligence normally reserved for its closest allies, have helped convince some previously skeptical capitals, including Berlin, that the Kremlin will soon have its troops in Ukraine can order. The effort drew support for the need for strong sanctions threats to deter the Kremlin.

US President Joe Biden will warn Russia’s Vladimir Putin against any invasion on Tuesday in a planned video conference, with the full support of NATO and the EU for retaliatory measures, European defense and security officials told the FT.

Russia could plan to invade Ukraine “as soon as early in 2022”, a Biden administration official said on Friday, adding that half of the military units involved in such an offensive in the past month arrived near the border with Ukraine.

The US decision to share its intelligence so widely among European states and issue public warnings stems from Washington’s hope that, by strengthening Western support for sanctions, it would underline to Moscow the cost of any aggression. The details of impending sanctions and other countermeasures are still under discussion.

The Kremlin has consistently denied this plans to invade Ukraine and blamed increasing tensions on US and NATO support for Kiev.

US intelligence reports depicting Russian military deployments along the Ukrainian border, evidence of possible attack preparations and analysis of the Kremlin’s alleged intentions were shared bilaterally and jointly with NATO members and through EU diplomatic channels, officials informed about the documents told the FT said.

The amount of material and details shared among the other 29 NATO allies was described by one official as “extremely comprehensive”.

The unmistakable level of intelligence sharing has been fueled by initial reluctance on the part of some European allies to treat US allegations that an invasion was being prepared as credible, four officials said.

The disclosure of previously secret details began in early November ahead of a meeting of NATO ministers last week, which was subsequently dominated by discussions on Ukraine. The intelligence helped shift the conversation from whether the warning was correct to how to best ward it off.

“Many allies were not convinced that serious things were happening,” said a second official. “We were surprised by this [intelligence] gap – how and why the US sees things we do not see. ”

“If I have to compare phrases from before this information and then [at the Nato meeting] in Riga there was a big shift to the American version of things, “the official added.

Biden said on Friday he was preparing a “comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives” to ward off any Russian aggression.

“We have long been aware of Russia’s actions and my expectation is that we will have a long discussion,” he said of the forthcoming call with Putin.

The US says Russia has made preparations to deploy 100 battalion tactical groups from a total of an estimated 175,000 military personnel at various strategic locations along the Ukrainian border, backed by 100,000 reservist troops.

Russian Panzer Heads to Crimea in 2014 © Bulent Doruk / Anadolu Agency / Getty

Russian troops invaded Georgia in 2008, and invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Since then, the Kremlin has supported pro-Moscow separatists waging a seven-year war against Ukrainian government forces in Donbas, a Ukrainian region on the border with Russia.

In April, Russia quickly and without warning moved 100,000 troops from other parts of the country to its border area with Ukraine, along with tanks, aircraft, naval forces, field hospitals and electronic warfare equipment, scary Kiev and Western countries. Some of those troops were eventually returned to their bases.

Some EU states and NATO members who called for dialogue with Moscow rather than confrontation cited that de-escalation as proof that Russia will not launch a full invasion unless provoked. But U.S. intelligence on the recent troop deployment has shifted that analysis.

The US and the EU have “the same cohesive message. . . to show the price that Putin will pay ”for any action against Ukraine, a third European official said. “Some European states that have not read Putin’s moves [in the same way that the US was] in terms of intentions, it is now. ”

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