how Americans and French were divided on the strategy to adopt

The details included in a long investigation of the washington post shed a striking light on the months leading up to the invasion of Ukraine. Information from the American media, cross-checked via very high-level sources in Ukraine and Western Europe, first confirms that the United States had acquired very precise information on Vladimir Putin’s plan. As early as the fall of 2021, their analysts were convinced that Moscow had the firm intention of invading Ukraine, and broke through its plan.

While much of this intelligence was passed on to their allies, notably France and Germany, it was not enough to convince them of the inevitability of the Russian invasion. According to washington post, past manipulations to justify the war in Iraq, as well as the failure of American intelligence to anticipate the very rapid fall of Kabul in August 2021, increased the skepticism of Paris, which until the end believed that it could find a diplomatic solution. . But neither France nor the United States managed to prevent this conflict of historic gravity.

The plan of the invasion was known

From the fall, the United States therefore acquired the conviction that the invasion would take place during the winter, to take advantage of the hardness of the soil in the region, without however being able to give a precise date. According to washington postAmerican analysts anticipated that Putin’s plan was to conquer kyiv, and that the conflict would therefore not be confined to Donbass.

According to the Americans, the Russians estimated that the capture of the Ukrainian capital would take three or four days. In parallel, the special forces would try to capture or assassinate President Zelensky which indeed happened. American diplomats warned Zelensky of this impending threat in January, telling him that kill teams ready to be activated might already be in kyiv.

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They also discover that the plan to conquer the capital goes through the airport of Hostomel, in the suburbs of kyiv. It is indeed on this airport that Russian commandos, filmed by CNN cameras, landed on February 24, before heading towards the Ukrainian capital.

According to American analyses, Vladimir Putin thought that the invasion would cause very strong indignation in the West but that the sanctions would be limited. The international context seemed favorable to him: the United States was emerging very weakened from its catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan and remained, like most of the Western world, marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. Germany had to manage post-Merkel. In France, Emmanuel Macron had to deal with the rise of the far right and the British managed the post-Brexit period.

Zelensky’s Skepticism

According to washington postPresident Zelensky himself has long been skeptical about Putin’s real desire to invade his country. “Put yourself in our shoes”declared Dmytro Kouleba, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs in washington post. “You have, on the one hand, the United States telling you something completely unimaginable, and everyone winks at you and says that’s not what we think is going to happen. pass. »

This skepticism was allegedly fueled by the fact that the information transmitted to Ukraine and to Western partners was not exhaustive. “Although the Americans and their British partners shared a significant amount of information, they hid raw interceptions or the nature of human sources that were critical in determining Putin’s plans”indicates the washington post. The Americans fear in particular that the Ukrainian intelligence apparatus is infiltrated by spies or that this information will incite Ukraine to launch offensives against Russia, which could have drawn the United States into a direct confrontation.

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Zelensky’s wary attitude was also reinforced by his determination not to panic, which could have caused his country’s economic collapse and the flight of the population, which kyiv wanted to repel the Russians. “Let’s be honest: imagine if all this panic that so many people were pushing for had really taken place. (..) What would have happened to the economy? Could we have lasted five months like we did? »says Andrii Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, at the washington post.

France believed in diplomacy

According to washington postthe withholding of information led the French and Germans to doubt the American analysis. “They had long suspected that Washington and London sometimes hid their intelligence base to make it appear more definitive than it actually was”, continues the American media. Thus, as American alerts multiplied, Paris and Berlin insisted on finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis. An option that Emmanuel Macron thought possible until the end.

On February 20, four days before the invasion, the French president spoke with Vladimir Putin on the telephone. The exchange is filmed by journalist Guy Lagache, for a documentary broadcast on France Télévisions. Emmanuel Macron tries to convince the Russian president to accept a meeting with the Americans and the Europeans.

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At the end of the interview, Putin indicates that he is then in a gymnasium. He intends to go play ice hockey, but explains that before, he will call his advisers to discuss the holding of a summit. Macron hangs up, visibly relieved. But war will not be avoided. “Putin lied to us like a tooth-puller. For several days, he had been lying to Emmanuel Macron to save time »enraged a senior official in MarianneFebruary 24.

Propaganda and manipulation

Over the months, a lot of information has been made public by Washington and London, in particular maps showing the deployment of Russian troops on the border. A maneuver intended to prevent disinformation, while Putin and Russian officials have always maintained that the movements of their army were only exercises.

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The idea then was to prevent Moscow from reversing responsibility for the opening of fire. The Americans had learned that the Russians were planning to film and broadcast a fake Ukrainian attack on the Russian army. “The propaganda film would be heavy on spectacle, officials said, with graphic scenes of explosions, accompanied by corpses posed as victims and mourners pretending to mourn the dead”relates the washington post. Despite everything, the conflict will not be prevented by the alerts of the United States and the United Kingdom either.

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