In recent weeks, US officials, including President Biden, claimed that Russia was considering using chemical weapons in Ukraine. But three US officials told NBC News this week that there is no evidence Russia had moved any chemical weapons near Ukraine and that the claims were part of an information war against Moscow.
The US officials said that the Biden administration has been sharing declassified intelligence that wasn’t “rock solid.” The NBC report said that multiple US officials acknowledged that the US has used information as a weapon against Russia “even when confidence in the accuracy of the information wasn’t high.”
The report said the US has used “low confidence” information, like the chemical weapons claims, as a “deterrent effect.” One official told NBC that by sharing the information, the US is just “trying to get inside Putin’s head.”
Another example of the US sharing bad intelligence is the claim that Putin is being misinformed by his advisors about the war in Ukraine, which first surfaced in media reports last week. Two US officials told NBC that the intelligence about Putin’s inner circle lying to him “wasn’t conclusive” and was “based more on analysis than hard evidence.”
In another deceptive intelligence release, the US said Russia would view providing MiG fighter jets to Ukraine as escalatory, which bolstered the Pentagon’s position not to transfer the planes to Kyiv. But two US officials said that was also true for Stinger missiles, which the US and its allies have given to the Ukrainians.
A European official and two US officials said that the claim that Russia asked China for military help “lacked hard evidence.” Both Beijing and Moscow strongly denied the claim after it spread through Western media.
The NBC report said that by declassifying so much intelligence, the Biden administration was able to publicly predict Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But during the lead-up to the invasion and since, Western media reports have been full of other unsubstantiated claims about Russia and Ukraine.