Pentagon intelligence leak reveals 14 US troops in Ukraine
THE leak of tens US intelligence documents relating primarily to Russia’s war against Ukraine has raised serious questions for both US policymakers and US allies and partners: Why were did they leak? How secure is the collection of information in the United States? How much does our government spy on its friends? Why do these documents seem to overestimate the Ukrainian losses, and how far breakdown is the air defense system of Ukraine?
But for the American public and lawmakers who nominally represent us, a revelation should raise a broader concern: If there are American boots on the ground in Ukraine, as these leaked documents indicate, are we closer to war with Russia what we thought?
To be clear, the boots are very little. “A slide suggested that a small contingent of less than 100 special operations personnel from NATO members France, America, Britain and Latvia were active in Ukraine,” it said. -he adds. The Guardian reported. A Daily mail history includes a picture of this document, which shows that the largest contingent of these forces is British (the United Kingdom semi-denied the report), and only 14 are American.
It’s not a lot. It’s very small compared to thousands of civilian deaths and hundreds of thousands losses of fighters reported in Ukraine already. It’s also much smaller than US deployments elsewhere, like, say, the about 900 US troops lingering in Syria or 2,500 in Iraq. Even an American embassy in a peaceful and friendly country could have a US military presence of 14.
But that’s the problem: Ukraine is not a peaceful country right now, and Syria is a reasonable comparison. In both countries, the United States has a military presence but is technically not at war. Congress never allowed military intervention in Syria and President Joe Biden was adamant that “we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces” until “the United States or our allies are attacked”. And in both countriesour intervention puts us on opposite sides – and in close combat in a war zone – with Russia.
This proximity does not guarantee that we will fall into an unwanted US-Russian war. Washington and Moscow have many good reasons to avoid this outcome, the specter of nuclear annihilation being among them. Moreover, even if these 14 Americans suffer real harm in Ukraine, the United States is not obligated to respond by escalating to the point of open conflict.
Syria is a good comparison again: when Iran-linked fighters killed an American contractor and injured five American servicemen there last monththe United States retaliated with airstrikes, but we have not launched a real war against Iran. Likewise, although Moscow insists that the United States is using Ukraine to wage a proxy war against Russia, it did not respond American involvement with military reprisals against us.
Remember, this leak isn’t the first hint that Biden’s pledge not to “[send] American troops to fight in Ukraine or [attack] Russian forces” is kept only on a technical point. It has been almost a year since The New York Times reported that the United States was providing intelligence assistance to Ukraine to kill russian generals And sink their warship. And at the beginning of October, The interception was already reporting that there is “a much larger presence of CIA and U.S. special operations personnel and resources in Ukraine than there was at the time of the Russian invasion”, citing “officials current and former intelligence “anonymous.
In this context, not to mention the tens of billions the aid that the United States has sent to Ukraine since February last year – a contingent of 14 people is unlikely to make a significant difference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calculations regarding the possibility of a war with the most powerful army in the world and 30 other NATO allies. Again, 14 is not a lot.
However, “unlikely” is not “impossible” and “not much” is not “nothing”.
American deterrence is solid and reliable, but we are naïve to imagine that Washington can do what it wants in the world without fear of reprisals. This is particularly true in Ukraine, where Putin has indicated that he sees a fundamental national interest at stake. (Russia’s operations in Syria, but also strategically motivatedare not on the same scale.) Although escalation is not inevitable, it is still a risk.
To Biden’s credit, the leak also revealed that his administration has been at least in a more cautious way than some of Ukraine’s other supporters. “One of the documents says Britain and France sent manned electronic warfare planes over the Black Sea while the US only sent drones,” David Ignatius said. . observed To The Washington Post. “Why? The answer is that we don’t want a direct confrontation with Russia, like the one the documents say took place in September, when the Russians nearly shot down a British RC-135.”
It is wise. Yet placing Americans in Ukraine, albeit few in number, could also be a route to a direct confrontation with Russia. What happens if they are killed by a Russian bomb? It’s hard to imagine a purely verbal response from Washington, especially if the deaths become public. Even a small risk of global historic catastrophe is a serious risk.