There’s been a ton of analysis of Russia’s military failure in Ukraine — including in the nightly reports of our own Mr. Silverman. But an in-depth WaPo article published this morning suggests Russia’s intelligence failure was possibly even more catastrophic, or at least it set the stage for the fail-parade that followed and continues to this day. A few excerpts:
So certain were FSB operatives that they would soon control the levers of power in Kyiv, according to Ukrainian and Western security officials, that they spent the waning days before the war arranging safe houses or accommodations in informants’ apartments and other locations for the planned influx of personnel…
An agency whose domain includes internal security in Russia as well as espionage in the former Soviet states, the FSB has spent decades spying on Ukraine, attempting to co-opt its institutions, paying off officials and working to impede any perceived drift toward the West. No aspect of the FSB’s intelligence mission outside Russia was more important than burrowing into all levels of Ukrainian society.
And yet, the agency failed to incapacitate Ukraine’s government, foment any semblance of a pro-Russian groundswell or interrupt President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hold on power. Its analysts either did not fathom how forcefully Ukraine would respond, Ukrainian and Western officials said, or did understand but couldn’t or wouldn’t convey such sober assessments to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Just massive hubris all around, it sounds like. The whole thing is worth a read.