The New York Times reported on Wednesday that despite the billions of dollars in weapons the US is sending Ukraine, Kyiv has shared few details on its operational plans with Washington.
Current and former officials told the Times that US intelligence agencies have a far better picture of Russia’s military operations than Ukraine’s. Even in high-level talks with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, Ukrainian officials have only shared their strategic goals, not their operational plans.
Washington has such little information on Ukraine’s operations that it has tried to learn information from other countries operating in Ukraine, training sessions with Ukrainian forces, and even from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s public comments.
While Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials constantly make claims about the state of Russia’s forces, things like Ukrainian casualties have been a closely guarded secret, until very recently. Last week, Zelensky said Ukraine was losing between 60 and 100 troops each day as the fighting against Russia rages in the east.
The officials said that Ukraine’s government wants to project an image of strength to its close partners, so they continue providing military aid. The report says the lack of US knowledge is because Washington has focused its intelligence capabilities to be used against adversaries like Russia while helping partners like Ukraine boost their own intelligence services.
Despite the lack of a clear picture of what’s going on in Ukraine, the US continues to pour weapons into the country. In the latest escalation of military aid, the Biden administration said it will send Ukraine rocket systems capable of hitting targets up to 50 miles away.
On top of the lack of knowledge of Ukraine’s operations, there is also no oversight of the billions in weapons the US is sending to the country. CNN reported in April that the US has “almost zero” ability to track the weapons it is sending once they enter Ukraine. One source briefed on US intelligence described it as dropping the arms into a “big black hole.”