US intelligence, military and diplomatic leaders reportedly came to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamal Harris with a report, satellite images, intercepts and information from sources that revealed Russian invasion plans. The publication claims that at that time Russia was already ready to cross the Ukrainian border and start a war.
US intelligence told Mr. Biden that Russia expected to capture Kyiv within three to four days. According to The Washington Post, the administration of the US president did not dispute the occupation of the Ukrainian capital, but disagreed only about the time it would take.
The publication says that the USA sent negotiators to V. Putin, Nikolai Patrushev, and Sergey Lavrov, and when that did not yield results, they turned to Volodymyr Zelensky.
Judging by the investigative text of The Washington Post, the information about the Russian attack on the Ukrainian president turned out to be somewhat speculative, as the Russian military had previously engaged in similar provocations near the borders of Ukraine. As Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the publication, the United States had provided too little concrete intelligence to confirm that an invasion was imminent. However, such information was provided four or five days before the start of the aggression.
In mid-November, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines briefed NATO on Russia’s plans to seize Ukraine. Representatives of some countries were very skeptical about it – they say that American intelligence is not considered a reliable source.
The US warnings were taken seriously only by Great Britain and the Baltic states, “which were always worried about Russia’s intentions”.
The Washington Post reports that even leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron and then German Chancellor Angela Merkel could not believe that V. Putin could decide on such an irrational step as the invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine itself could hardly believe it.
“Put yourself in our shoes. The USA is telling you something completely unimaginable, and everyone else blinks their eyes and says that it cannot happen, – said Ukrainian Foreign Minister D. Kuleba. – I could not believe that a war of this scale would hit us. The only country in the world that persistently and confidently told us that we would be attacked by missiles was the United States. Everyone else was inclined to believe that war is possible, but it will most likely be a local conflict in eastern Ukraine.”
According to the American publication, the United States realized that Russia is not interested in a diplomatic way of resolving the possible conflict, and began to increase the military contingent in Europe – from 74 thousand to 100 thousand people. With the permission of the National Security Agency, a direct line of communication was established between the Ukrainian military and the European command of US troops in Europe.
On January 12, CIA director William Burns informed V. Zelensky about Russia’s plans to strike Kyiv in a flash: elite Russian paratroopers were to land in Hostomel by helicopter, shell the capital and eliminate (if necessary, even kill) the top political leadership of Ukraine.
Despite the danger to the lives of V. Zelensky himself and his family, the Ukrainian president and other leaders refused to leave Kyiv.
On January 21, 2022, a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken took place in Geneva.
The Washington Post writes that at the end of the futile negotiations, the American diplomat unexpectedly offered the head of Russian diplomacy a minute to talk face-to-face and openly asked what the real reasons for the situation were – whether it was real concern about NATO’s activities, or V. Putin’s messianic belief that Ukraine must belong to Russia. S. Lavrov quietly left the hall. It was the last personal meeting between Russian and American diplomats before the start of the war in Ukraine.
“The Washington Post” also describes the meeting between the defense ministers of the United Kingdom and Russia, Ben Wallace and Sergei Shoigu, which took place the day before. B. Wallace tried to inquire about possible negotiations between NATO and Russia, but when he failed to do so, he warned S. Shoigu that the Ukrainians could fight very fiercely for their freedom.
The Russian Minister of Defense replied that his mother was Ukrainian, Ukraine itself is a part of “our state”, and Russians can suffer and suffer like no other, if pressure is reached with sanctions and an economic blockade. Moreover, at the end of the meeting, S. Shoigu told B. Wallace that Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine.
On the eve of the invasion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, D. Kuleba, received specific information “there are five transport planes at airport A, ready to transport paratroopers to airport B of Ukraine at any moment.”
This turned out to be true, but the attempts to capture the capital failed. Unnamed representatives of Western intelligence told The Washington Post that, after assessing the chaotic Russian attempt to take Kyiv, they had to admit that they had overestimated the effectiveness of the Russian army: “We thought they would retreat the same way we would have.”
However that attack ended, Zelenskiy was deeply concerned at the start of it, and in a conversation with Mr. Biden, he asked him to contact as many world leaders as possible and convince them to call Mr. Putin to stop the invasion.
“The Washington Post” concludes the investigation with the words of the President of Ukraine, which sounded in a conversation with the President of the United States. V. Zelensky asked to “give us all the intelligence data that is available. We will resist, we will defend, we will stand, but we need your help.”
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