When I joined the CIA in September of 1985 it was my first exposure to classified information. Initially, I believed that the classification system was designed to prevent the public from knowing the “real truth” about what was happening in the world. In the months that followed I discovered that Top Secret, Special Compartmented Intelligence, appeared routinely on the front pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times.
What was the difference between leaked intelligence and the intel reports that did not appear in the press? It boiled down to something pretty simple — if there was disagreement over a particular policy, such as placing nuclear missiles in Europe, that intelligence leaked. Conversely, if there was consensus over a policy or program that information rarely leaked.
I raise this because of the spate of articles now appearing in the establishment media that are painting a dire, gloomy picture of Ukraine’s much ballyhooed counter offensive. That is not a coincidence nor is it the result of intrepid journalism. Support for Ukraine in Washington is starting to crumble. While the Austin, Milley, Blinken and Nuland crowd continue to insist that victory is just around the corner (all we need is more cow bell), others at the Pentagon, the CIA, the DNI and DIA see the writing on the wall spelling out a message of looming disaster.
The Washington Post ran this piece earlier this week:
Ukraine running out of options to retake significant territory. (The Washington Post — pay wall).
Ukraine is running out of options in its counteroffensive against Russian forces, as Kiev’s time-window to gain advances is closing, the Washington Post has reported.
In an article on Sunday, the U.S. daily has claimed that Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which was launched in early June and was initially expected to see Kiev taking back significant territory, currently “shows signs of stalling.”
“Kiev’s advances remain isolated to a handful of villages, Russian troops are pushing forward in the north and a plan to train Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-made F-16s is delayed,” wrote the U.S. newspaper.
The rest of the media is singing a similar tune. Here are some of the latest headlines:
Ukraine’s dreams of counter-offensive triumph have hit a hard reality. (The Telegraph — pay wall).
Ukraine’s sluggish counter-offensive is souring the public mood. (The Economist — pay wall).
Ukraine’s Reset: A Slow and Bloody Advance on Foot. (The Wall Street Journal — pay wall).
Then there are the blogs and internet content. Real Clear Defense has been generally pro-Ukraine with its coverage over the last 18 months but, unlike the Institute for the Study of War, has offered occasionally some solid analysis questioning Ukraine’s chances of vanquishing Russia. The latest piece on Real Clear Defense, Why Is Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Destined To Fail?, is a stark warning that the Fat Lady is starting to sing:
The much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive was predicted to break through Russian echelon defenses swiftly, however, it turned into a stalemate. The operation was strategically planned and executed with misguided optimism, as Ukraine’s defense strategists underestimated the strength of the adversary. It was launched under the wishful thinking of the Ukrainian government assuming that Russian soldiers would desert their positions and run away from their trenches in the first waves of the counterattack. However, the opposite happened, and Russians are holding their positions, occasionally launching counterattacks, and not allowing Ukraine’s land forces to breach their defenses. Already two months have passed since the launch of the offensive and Ukraine’s military has yet to make significant gains. With the current situation, the highly anticipated counteroffensive is destined to fail.
These articles are the early warning signs, like a canary in a mine shaft, that finger pointing and the blame game will take center stage in Washington, London and Brussels starting in September about who lost Ukraine. I fully expect that the Biden Administration will continue to insist that Ukraine is fighting Russia to a standstill and all the West has to do is exercise patience and wait for Russia to crumble. This is delusional, but that has been the distinguishing mindset of the Biden/neo-con crowd.
Events on the ground in Ukraine will force a change in thinking. Members of Congress will be preoccupied increasingly with the 2024 election and are likely to refuse to endorse further weapon sales and massive financial aid to Ukraine. Backing a loser is something that most politicians refuse to do.
There are a number of potential events that will result in Ukraine being put on the back burner. Worsening relations between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan raises the risk of a military conflict in the South China Sea. How about a financial crisis? October historically is the month when economic chaos explodes “unexpectedly” on Wall Street. If that occurs then Ukraine’s chances of getting more aid will vanish.
So, pay attention to the headlines and articles, especially those citing unnamed military or intelligence sources. That will tell you which way the wind is blowing.