Crimea, and another stunning US intelligence failure.

Incredibly, US intelligence thought Russia wouldn’t occupy (or make an unopposed arrival) Crimea.

U.S. intelligence estimates conclude that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine. This, despite the launch of a massive, new Russian military exercise near Ukraine’s border and moves from armed men to seize two key airports in the country’s Crimea region.

The latest developments led Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov Friday to accuse Russia of invading the Russian majority province of Crimea after armed militias took control of the civilian airport in Simferopol, the region’s capital and the military airport in Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based. Russian authorities meanwhile have denied any responsibility for the seizure of the two airports in the region.

Really? When the “cease fire” in Kiev between the Yanukovych regime and the protesters was announced, the first thing most people noticed was that it was due to expire the day the Winter Olympics ended. Smart money around the blogs was that as soon as the spotlight was off Sochi, Russian forces would intervene, in one manner or another.

Given the large ethnic Russian population in Crimea, and the critical Russian bases on the peninsula, the only question was (and still is) will the Russians be content with just Crimea, or will they attempt to retake all of Ukraine?

Actually, make no doubt, Russia will attempt to retake all of Ukraine. We doubt they will do so through military occupation (though a ginned up emergency is hardly out of the question), but though economic and political coercion. Russia (especially Putin, but a goodly percentage of the  man-on-the-street population as well) simply cannot conceive of a Ukraine that falls outside the Russian sphere of influence.

How is it that our intelligence community has such an incredibly poor grasp of history and culture that they cannot see that which is plainly before them? What was to stop Russia from entering Crimea? The Russians knew that they would be, if not welcomed with open arms, almost certainly unopposed. Heck, the Russians already occupied Crimea, with military installations shared with the Ukrainians. What possible downside did Russia see? None.

We’ve been pretty unimpressed with the Obama administration’s response, but frankly, we see little that the US could do to prevent any such Russian response. Having said that, the inability of the US intelligence community to see the obvious is deeply troubling.

11 thoughts on “Crimea, and another stunning US intelligence failure.”

  1. Best answer I can think of with the “intelligence” community being 0 -for the last 40 years is they are so caught up (especially now) with all the techno-wank toys they get to spend those billions and billions on, they haven’t a clue about good old fashioned spy stuff. That dirty, messy, unclean, using agents thing. Hand-delivered messages, word of mouth, one-time pads, y’know, STUFF that doesn’t come up on google earth or their latest sifting of some schlub’s email.
    It probably has never even occurred to these imbeciles, that if the oppo knows how you work, simple will utterly circumvent your intelligence gathering process. And you look like assholes, and rightly so

    1. It’s even worse than that. Even when the intell is correct, usually it is disbelieved by those in authority. Lots of data points in history here.

      Our current NCA is detatched from reality, and acts like religious zealots with an anti-USA mission. Upper class twits, one and all, devoid of any noblesse oblige.

  2. Tom Clancy saw it. The details are different, but the broad strokes are there. Or here, in the present.
    “A dictator in all but name, Volodin is bent on re-establishing Russian dominance over its former satellite states, beginning with an ultimately NATO-thwarted military foray in Estonia followed by a bigger, nastier push in Ukraine.”

    1. Yeah, I haven’t gotten around to reading his last two books. But I’m not surprised he got it right. It’s not been a big secret Russia, and especially Putin, wishes to reestablish the Empire.

  3. All of our enemies know that the time to act is now. The havoc that the administration has been planing to wreak upon our nation is in the process of culminating. He has the rudder full over now. He has rung up a flank bell since no one in the congress dares to object to his illegal dicta. Prepare for sever roll, heave and sway as the nation endures the “after the election flexibility” that was touted to the Russians.

    Our enemies are not fools. This is the time for which they have waited. They are prepared to act and we are not even prepared to react.

    1. Waiting with bated breath for the Crimean-equivalent of Konrad Henlein to stand before the international press and beg for Russian assistance.

  4. Once again there’s a problem that isn’t the administration’s fault. This time it was bad intelligence. Last time it was because health insurance is hard. Before that a YouTube video.

    It’s easy to get admin appointees or dems in the gov to say the intel community blew it to reporters that will dutifully report that the admin got bad info, so it’s not his fault for his bad policy. Remember that the intel community told the admin bengazi was a terrorist attack and the admin overruled them, then when they got caught in their lie, they turned around and said that the intel was bad. Until they were caught in that lie too, but then it was a false crisis made up by lying right-wingers. The press never asked questions, just noddded and attacked anyone who disagreed with that day’s explanation.

    We don’t actually know what the intel agencies reported about Ukraine–just some vague leaks. We do, however, know that the admin routinely lies to the public about what the intel and military communities tells them in a crisis, that the admin has a weak and incoherent diplomatic and national security strategy (that’s especially ineffective when faced with a crisis), and that most mainstream media wants to protect the admin from criticism and bad press.

    Besides, assume they got good intel. What would this President do? Exactly what he did-make a speech. Bluster. Sound impotent.

    Remember the old saying–policy success or intelligence failure

  5. Not really sure the events in Ukraine or the Crimea were an intelligence “failure” in that such could not be predicted. I very much got the sense from the feckless reactions of the Obama Administration and its foreign policy players that, somehow, they believed Putin “wouldn’t dare”. That somehow Obama’s disapproving glance would be enough to make Putin think twice. Not realizing, of course, that we are removing any real deterrence for Putin’s actions (any any other adversarial world player) with our very publicly advertised dismantling of our military, and our very open lack of resolve to protect American interests, let alone those of our allies. Putin is NOT subject to intimidation by IRS investigations or Justice Department subpoena.

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