Western political leaders should speak clearly about Russia’s war against Ukraine, including Russian forces fighting in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s direction of the campaign. To do otherwise buttresses Putin’s attempt to obfuscate Russia’s direct role in the conflict. The West must also recognize that Putin has used each lull in combat, now under the cover of the negotiated ceasefire in Minsk, to further reinforce Russian and Russian-backed forces in Ukraine’s east and to prepare for the next stage of fighting. Furthermore, as Russia strengthens the capacity and arsenal of the forces in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin is building its case that forces engaged in any future outbreaks in fighting are indigenous, legitimate Ukrainian forces rather than Moscow’s creation, states the report „Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine” made by Atlantic Council.
The report was presented in Riga, at the Latvian War museum on June 17 by it’s authors – Eliot Higgins and Maks Czuperski. The event was organized by the Centre for East European Policy Studies (CEEPS) in cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Republic of Latvia and Embassy of the United States of America in the Republic of Latvia. The presesntation of the report was followed by public discussion. It was moderated by Andis Kudors, the executive director of CEEPS.
The report is the result of an Atlantic Council Working Group launched to examine direct Russian military involvement in Ukraine. This report has made it clear that Russia has begun war against it’s neighbouring countrie and despite the evidence, continues to denie it.
Satellite images confirm the movement of Russian troops and camp buildups along the Ukrainian border;
Russian training camps stationed along the Ukrainian border are the launching points of Russia’s war in Ukraine. These camps are the staging ground for Russian military equipment transported into Ukraine, soon to join the separatist arsenal, and for Russian soldiers mobilized across Russia to cross into Ukraine;
Commanders order Russian soldiers to conceal the identifying features of military vehicles, remove insignia from uniforms, and travel across the border to join separatist forces in eastern Ukraine;
A variety of Russian manufactured arms and munitions—not used by the Ukrainian military—have appeared in the hands of separātists;
During key offensives, Russian forces in Ukraine have received cover from Russian territory. A combination of satellite data, crater analysis, and open source materials confirms that many attacks originated in Russia.
Devote substantially more intelligence assets to unveiling and countering Putin’s war in Ukraine;
Employ new digital forensic methods and geolocation analysis to collect intelligence that is releasable to the public to complement covert and technical intelligence collection;
Make public, to the maximum extent possible, information documenting Putin’s aggressive designs, the presence of Russian troops and equipment in Ukraine, and Russian officials directing the fighting in Ukraine, while protecting intelligence methods as needed;
Share intelligence regarding Russian plans against and Russian forces in and near Ukraine through vetted channels with the Ukrainian government;
Counter Russia’s hybrid war by speaking clearly, consistently, and publicly about Russia’s war against Ukraine;
Increase funding for, and mobilize private investment in, Russian-language independent programs and media that broadcast into Russian-speaking areas to offset the impact of Moscow’s propaganda;
Dedicate more intelligence assets to and analysis of Putin’s burgeoning hybrid warfare against other neighbors and European nations;
Draw on these insights to inform policy decisions, such as extending, not curtailing, sanctions, and to formulate a more comprehensive transatlantic strategy to deter Russia’s aggressive actions.
The report is available here.
Photos from the presentation available here.