The US military is reportedly working on a scheme to provide Ukraine with battlefield intelligence in a purported bid to respond to perceived Russian offensive amid rising concerns in Moscow that the US-led NATO alliance is pushing for a major military build-up in Ukraine for possible confrontation with Russia.
The list of ideas being drawn up by the US Defense Department, the State Department and the White House “include redirecting helicopters and other military equipment once allocated for the Afghan military to Ukraine,” the New York Times reported Thursday citing senior administration officials.
The Biden administration is also considering sending “additional cyber warfare experts” to Ukraine, the daily further added, noting that the US and the UK have also dispatched “some experts to shore up defenses” in case Russian President Vladimir Putin launches what they allege as “a cyber strike on Ukraine either in advance or instead of a ground invasion.”
But the proposal at the Pentagon for “actionable” intelligence is potentially more significant, the report underlined, citing two US officials that spoke on condition of anonymity, claiming: “The information would include images of whether Russian troops were moving to cross the border. Such information, if shared in time, could enable the Ukrainian military to head off an attack.”
The daily further cited another unnamed source “briefed on the administration’s actions” to reveal that US spy agencies are already giving Kiev access to more material than they had before the alleged Russian military buildup.
The assistance, if approved by US President Joe Biden, “is sure to raise the ire of Russia, which has portrayed any American military aid to Ukraine as provocative,” the report then underlined.
This is while Moscow has fiercely rejected Western claims that it has any intentions to “invade” anyone, Ukraine included, insisting that Washington and its allies of deliberately seeking to push its client government in Kiev into a crusade to “fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.”
President Putin, meanwhile, blasted the US and its allies during his year-end press conference on Thursday for hyping up “Russian aggression” while pushing closer and closer towards the country’s borders.
“We remember...how you promised us in the 1990s that [NATO] would not move an inch to the East,” said the Russian president. “You cheated us shamelessly: there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and now the weapons systems I mentioned have been deployed in Poland and deployment has recently begun in Poland…We are not threatening anyone.”
“Have we approached US borders? Or the borders of Britain or any other country?” he then asked. “It is you who have come to our border, and now you say that Ukraine will become a member of NATO as well. Or, even if it does not join NATO, that military bases and strike systems will be placed on its territory under bilateral agreements. This is the point.”
The US daily then went on to cite Pentagon spokesman John Kirby as announcing earlier in the week that a small Pentagon team had recently visited Ukraine to evaluate Kiev’s air defense needs.
The US military has been supplying Ukraine with anti-tank guided missiles called Javelins since 2018. Biden then authorized an additional Javelin delivery this fall as part of a $60 million military aid package.
American officials, however, acknowledge that one potential problem with providing actionable intelligence to Ukraine is that it could prompt its military to strike first, affirming Kremlin’s persisting concerns of US-led efforts to initiate a conflict against Russia.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry submitted a pair of draft security agreements to the US and NATO last week outlining how Moscow, Washington and the Western bloc could resolve the existing tensions. Among the proposals is the provision that NATO halt any further eastward expansion, and nix the incorporation of Kiev into the alliance.
US officials have signaled their readiness to hold talks with Russia about the security proposals in January, but have made no firm commitments. NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg appeared to reject the idea, claiming that the alliance never made any promises to Moscow not to expand.
American and NATO officials privately dismissed the main demands of the Russian proposal, which came in the form of a draft treaty suggesting that NATO should offer written guarantees that it would not expand farther east toward Russia and halt all military activities in neighboring countries.
Ukraine has sought NATO membership for years — a move that would enrage Russia — but despite the delay, the United States has balked at taking Ukraine’s accession off the table.