More information for today’s piece….
And extensive picece on how the US tried to convince Zelensky that the Russian’s were indeed gonna invade his country…..
The Ukraine striking at Crimea again
Some in the White House found it hard to wrap their minds around the scale of the Russian leader’s ambitions.
“It did not seem like the kind of thing that a rational country would undertake,” one participant in the meeting later said of the planned occupation of most of a country of 232,000 square miles and nearly 45 million people. Parts of Ukraine were deeply anti-Russian, raising the specter of an insurgency even if Putin toppled the government in Kyiv. And yet the intelligence showed that more and more troops were arriving and settling in for a full campaign. Munitions, food and crucial supplies were being deposited at Russian encampments.
Biden pressed his advisers. Did they really think that this time Putin was likely to strike?
Yes, they affirmed. This is real. Although the administration would publicly insist over the next several months that it did not believe Putin had made a final decision, the only thing his team couldn’t tell the president that autumn day was exactly when the Russian president would pull the trigger.
CIA Director William J. Burns, who had served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow and had had the most direct interactions with Putin of anyone in the Biden administration, described the Russian leader to the others as fixated on Ukraine. Control over the country was synonymous with Putin’s concept of Russian identity and authority. The precision of the war planning, coupled with Putin’s conviction that Ukraine should be reabsorbed by the motherland, left him with no doubts that Putin was prepared to invade.
“I believed he was quite serious,” Burns said months later, recalling the briefing….
Zelensky heard the U.S. warnings, he later recalled, but said the Americans weren’t offering the kinds of weapons Ukraine needed to defend itself.
“You can say a million times, ‘Listen, there may be an invasion.’ Okay, there may be an invasion — will you give us planes?” Zelensky said. “Will you give us air defenses? ‘Well, you’re not a member of NATO.’ Oh, okay, then what are we talking about?”
The Americans offered little specific intelligence to support their warnings “until the last four or five days before the invasion began,” according to Dmytro Kuleba, Zelensky’s foreign minister….
As part of its ongoing campaign to convince the world of what was coming — and dissuade the Russians — the White House decided toward the end of 2021 to challenge its own reluctance, and that of the intelligence agencies, to make some of their most sensitive information public.
The Kremlin claimed the Tuesday explosion, which destroyed an ammunition depot, was an “act of sabotage,” while a Ukrainian official said the blast was the work of the same Ukrainian special forces team believed responsible for a strike last week on a Russian air base in Crimea.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
- Social media videos of the strike’s aftermath showed a raging fire at the storage depot. At least two people were injured and 3,000 residents living nearby were evacuated, according to local media outlets.
- The blast, near the Crimean town of Dzhankoi, was “demilitarization in action,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted. Russia’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said a fire at the depot caused ammunition stored inside to detonate.
- The United Nations and Russia discussed safety around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday about how to ensure the safe functioning of Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which is under Russian control, as strikes around the plant have intensified in recent days. Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for the strikes, which have sent local residents fleeing. In a Tuesday call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Zelensky said he denounced “Russia’s nuclear terrorism.”
- Russia has “no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Shoigu said Tuesday at a conference in Moscow. Russia’s nuclear arsenal exists mainly “to deter a nuclear attack,” and its use “is limited to emergency circumstances” outlined in publicly available documents, he said.
- The U.N.’s Guterres, Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are set to meet Thursday in Lviv, Ukraine, a U.N. spokesperson announced. Guterres also plans to visit a Black Sea port used to transport grain under a U.N. backed deal brokered in Turkey.
- Russia and Britain traded accusations of unsafe and provocative aircraft activity on Tuesday. Russia’s Defense Ministry said a British plane entered Russian airspace on Monday and had to be escorted out by a fighter jet. But a U.K. defense official denied the claim and said its aircraft was in international airspace when Russia’s jet “conducted an unsafe pass.”