Analysis by CNN’s Stephen Collinson on Friday bragged that Western spy agencies had managed “weaponize intelligence” to create a narrative casting Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukraine invasion in a negative light and turning the world against the war.
Putin, he argued, is getting a “dose of his own medicine” in the psychological war the agencies are waging against him because of his aggressive actions.
The U.S. and NATO are showing a picture of the Russian military as “bogged down, demoralized and dysfunctional,” sustaining heavy losses. They have also portrayed an image conveying growing tension in the Kremlin over Putin’s actions and the war.
Putin doesn’t even realize how badly the war is going, they say, because he’s so isolated and surrounded by yes-men.
Beating Putin at his own game
Western efforts started even before the invasion when Putin repeatedly denied he was going to invade Ukraine but intelligence sources widely reported it.
Putin may have been the first in using information warfare, but the West is quickly catching up and may even be beating him at his own game, at this point, based on the number of private businesses that have pulled operations out of Russia.
Putin has gone from trying to meddle in foreign elections to being persona non grata around the world. Other than China, North Korea, and a few small former Russian republics, the world now disdains Putin for his well-publicized attacks on civilians including a maternity hospital.
Collinson expressed surprise that Western intelligence was willing to be so transparent about what was going on in Russia and Ukraine.
“It makes intelligence professionals, even former ones like me, nervous, because, of course, it’s so ingrained in us to protect sources and methods,” former chief of Russia operations for the CIA Steve Hall told CNN’s Ana Cabrera Thursday.
Collinson pointed out that the spy agencies were engaged in covert operations that make it impossible for others to know what is true or not true about their reports.
“But of course, that’s the point, and it’s keeping the Russians guessing too,” he said.
The strength of Ukraine’s resistance and the relative weakness of Russian forces surprised even most of the intelligence community, revealing that even intelligence assessments are not foolproof.