Yossi Melman: Western Intel is a force multiplier. Russia’s weakness is a surprise (Haaretz.com)


Excerpts from:

Haaretz.com @haaretzcom


Western Intel Is a Force Multiplier for Ukraine. Russia’s Weakness Is a Surprise

The Ukrainians have used U.S. and NATO intel quickly and efficiently, inflicting heavy losses with missiles supplied by the West. Russia, meanwhile, is having difficulty coordinating its forces, forcing it to hit static targets. The two sides will soon face three options

Yossi Melman

Apr. 1, 2022

Without in any way minimizing Ukraine’s heroic defense against the Russian invasion, there’s also a behind-the-scenes hero: the precise intelligence the United States, Britain and other NATO countries have given the Ukrainians. Without this vast trove of intel – and the ability to quickly put it to use in military operations – it’s doubtful whether the Ukrainians could have successfully stood up to the huge force that invaded its territory on February 24.

“This quality intelligence has been a major force multiplier,” says Prof. Dmitry “Dima” Adamsky, a lecturer at Reichman University’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and author of the book “Russian Nuclear Orthodoxy: Religion, Politics, and Strategy.”

In contrast to the success of Western intelligence, Russian intelligence has been exposed for all its flaws.

“The Russians weren’t prepared in terms of intelligence and doctrine,” says Zvi Magen, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Russia and Ukraine, as well as in the Israeli army’s 8200 intelligence unit and in Military Intelligence research. He once headed Nativ (which handles Jewish emigration from the former Soviet Union bloc) and today is a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.

“They didn’t understand that after 2014, the Ukrainian army had prepared itself with the aid of the United States and NATO,” Magen says. “U.S. and British intelligence have demonstrated again and again that they almost always know what the Russians are doing and planning in Ukraine.”

Without a doubt, the numbers both two sides are releasing to the media should be viewed cautiously. Nevertheless, the most conservative estimates of Western intelligence sources are that about 120 Russian attack helicopters (almost a quarter of its total) and 80 fighter jets (10 percent) have been brought down by the Ukrainians.

Those same estimates say that at least 10,000 Russian troops have been killed so far, in addition to thousands wounded. Ukrainian losses are considerably less, running at about 3,000 dead and thousands wounded.

“So far, we’ve seen three phases of the war,” Adamsky says. “In the first phase, the Russians tried to stage a blitzkrieg that was planned on baseless assumptions about the abilities of the Ukrainian army and the weakness of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. After about a week, when they realized how big their mistake was, they moved to the second phase, which aimed to adjust to the new situation and fight a war they hadn’t prepared for. That showed up many surprising weaknesses and failures in command and control, logistics and the way the various branches of the military were managed. In the third phase, the Russians undertook land incursions while attempting, with no great success, to conduct combined arms warfare. That effort led to destruction in the major cities. It focuses on static targets, like infrastructure and military production plants, and causes huge damage. But the problems remain.”

Adamsky believes that within a few weeks, Russia and Ukraine will face three options:

1. A war of attrition;

2. A cease-fire that will eventually become a peace agreement;

3. A continuation of conventional war (without using nonconventional weapons) by Putin to achieve his aims.

If the war continues, it is reasonable to assume that more territory will be torn from Ukraine, perhaps even to the point that the country is divided into two halves. But, as Magen sees it, “whatever the consequences of this tragic war, Russia will emerge defeated.”



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