US President Joe Biden has reportedly warned his senior intelligence officials that leaks about intelligence sharing with Ukraine’s military should be halted since they “distract” Washington from its objectives in the conflict.
During a phone conversation with CIA Director William Burns, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Biden praised the work of top US spy agencies but emphasized that disclosures of intelligence operations are counterproductive and ought to stop, NBC News reported Friday.
The development came a day after numerous American news outlets reported that US-supplied intelligence data had allowed Ukrainian forces to strike Russia’s Black Sea flagship ‘Moskva’ off the coast of Odessa last month.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, however, denied the reports, saying “the Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case.”
Russia also insists that its missile cruiser never came under attack, but sank on April 14 after a fire that had broken out on board caused ammunition to explode.
The New York Times daily further reported on Wednesday that the US had allegedly provided Kiev with intelligence that enabled the Ukrainian military to target and kill several Russian generals. Kirby rejected the report, though he went on to acknowledge that sharing “battlefield intelligence to help Ukraine defend their country” was part of the assistance extended to Kiev by the US military.
NBC also reported last week that the US had provided Ukraine with “near real-time” data which allegedly helped it to shoot down a Russian transport plane carrying “hundreds of troops.”
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council reacted to the report by only stating that the US was “regularly providing detailed, timely intelligence to the Ukrainians on the battlefield to help them defend their country against Russian aggression and will continue to do so.”
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Thursday that Russian authorities are aware that the US, Britain and the NATO military alliance transmit intelligence and other data to Kiev “on a permanent basis.”
“Along with the flow of weapons that these same countries and alliances are sending to Ukraine, all these actions do not contribute to the quick completion of the operation, but at the same time they are not able to hinder the achievement of the goals set during the special military operation,” Peskov emphasized.
Several former US intelligence and government officials took to social media to call on the Biden administration to stop speaking to the media on intelligence matters.
The Pentagon announced last week that the US had already spent $4.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine since 2021.
Russia engaged in a massive military operation in the neighboring country following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements — signed in 2014 — and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was aimed at offering the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev claims that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied reports that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.