When Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine last month, US intelligence estimated that a nationwide offensive could lead to Kiev falling into Russian hands within days. But Russia’s military has been paralyzed around the capital since the war entered its second month, amid unpredictable fierce opposition from Ukrainian militants and problems with stability and logistics.
A U.S. Senate Commander-in-Chief, General Todd Walters, testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday that a Mississippi Republican sen. Roger Viker asked if there was an intelligence gap between the United States overestimating Russia’s strength and underestimating Ukrainian security.
“Maybe,” Walters replied. “As we have always done in the past, when this crisis is over, we will conduct a comprehensive action review across all sectors and all sectors to ensure that our vulnerable areas are identified and find ways to do so. To improve, this may be one of those areas.”
Although US intelligence predicts that Russia is planning to occupy Ukraine, which has been aggressively released by the Biden administration to divert global sentiment against the Kremlin, intelligence has not assessed the Russian military’s poor performance.
US and NATO allies continue to assist in re-arming the Ukrainian military, including anti-Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles used against Russian forces. While estimates vary widely, sources familiar with the estimates say that thousands of Russian troops were killed in the conflict. U.S. officials say they have evidence of mental health problems in the Russian military.
Earlier this month, the Senate Intelligence Agency’s Director of National Intelligence, Avril Hines, said that US intelligence had underestimated the opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.
“I think we were fine there,” he said. “We did not do well in predicting the military challenges he faced with his own army.”
Lt. Gen. Scott Perrier, head of the Security Intelligence Service, said US intelligence assessments prior to the invasion were based on a number of factors, including that Ukrainians were “not as ready as I thought they were”.
“So, I questioned their willingness to fight. It was a bad assessment on my part because they were fighting bravely and respectfully and doing the right thing,” he said.
Arkansas GOP Sen. When asked by Tom Cotton about estimates of how long Kiev will last or how long Ukraine will be able to maintain its air defenses, Periyar said, “The intelligence community has made some assumptions about (Putin’s’ assumptions, which have proven to be very erroneous.”
As Perry put it about Putin, “when he got into this fight his real activity turned his operation upside down. We saw, if you will, a division of activities that he is going through right now.”