How US Intelligence Sees Russia’s Behavior After Buka

American intelligence sources call this the Buka Effect. After Kyiv triumphantly announced last weekend that Ukrainian forces had regained control of Buka and other northern cities, the joy quickly turned to agony as civilian corpses were found in the streets, some with their hands tied behind their backs. , apparently was shot from close range.

Images of civilian deaths stymied talks by both sides, especially with Kyiv and the international community accusing Russia of war crimes and genocide.

Visitors at a mass grave in the city of Buka, northwest of Kyiv, on April 8, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky / AFP via Getty Images

Last Wednesday, Buka Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said 320 people had died in the city of 37,000. Foreign Minister Kuleba called the deaths “mass killings”, as well as claimed that the Russian killing of civilians was premeditated.

An official in Ukraine’s President Zelensky’s office, Mykhailo Podolik, said NATO and the United States shared some of the blame for the civilian deaths, adding that pressure to prosecute Russia had not affected Ukraine. “Russia has been shelling and bombing residential areas and mass shooting civilians for more than a month,” he said. The result of withdrawing from the support of the world, Podolik said, was the “anti-humanitarianism of Bucha and other cities”.

“Hundreds, thousands of people were murdered, torn down, raped, tied up, raped and re-murdered. Thousands of peaceful citizens of Ukraine. Killed with special brutality,” he said.

“It’s ugly,” told a senior Defense Intelligence Agency official Greeley Tribune. “But we forget that two equivalent competitors fought on Buka for 36 days, and that the city was captured, that Russian convoys and positions inside the city were attacked by Ukrainians and, conversely, that the ground The fighting was intense, that the city itself was really fought.”

The official, who is conducting intelligence analysis of the Ukraine war and requested anonymity to discuss confidential matters and share personal views, says talks stalled due to the Buka effect and took a peek at the war .

“I am not making excuses for Russia’s war crimes even once, nor forgetting that Russia attacked the country,” the DIA official said. “But the actual number of deaths is hardly genocide. If Russia had that objective or was deliberately killing civilians, we would see less than .01 percent in places like Bucha.”

British military intelligence appears to agree with the DIA officer, on the back of the political rhetoric fueled by Ukrainian and Western officials. “Russia’s departure from northern Ukraine provides evidence of targeting of non-combatants, including the presence of mass graves, the lethal use of hostages as human shields, and the mining of civilian infrastructure,” it said in a statement on Saturday. “

“Irregular targeting” is an international law standard that balances military objectives with the obligation to inflict minimal damage to achieve those objectives, specifically what happens inside a war – even. That’s also an illegal war.

DIA officials say, “Were the Russians indiscriminate? Exactly. “But here in particular, in Buka and other towns around it – Irpin and Hostomel – there was intense ground fighting involving about 20 battalion tactical groups.”

Intensifying the anger, according to Kyiv, Russian shelling of Ukrainian forces in the southern village of Kramtorsk attacked a railway station on Friday, killing about 40 civilians.

“This is an evil that knows no bounds,” Zelensky said, referring to the attack. “Russian non-humans do not give up their ways. Without the strength and courage to oppose us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population.” Kramatorsk was presented as another buka, and again provoked international outrage.

Ukraine Buta Russia War Killings
“An evil that knows no bounds.” Tatiana Ustimenko weeps at the grave of her son buried in the garden of her home, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, on April 6, 2022.
Ronaldo Schmidt / AFP via Getty Images

But British intelligence was also more circumspect about Kramatorsk. On Friday, it released its daily take on the war, saying that “Russia continues to kill Ukrainian non-combatants, such as those killed in yesterday’s rocket attack on the Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine.” It used the word “hit” instead of “targeted”, suggesting that the attacks may not have been intentional.

Now that Russian forces have completed their withdrawal from northern Ukraine, their focus has shifted entirely to the southeastern quadrant, around Kramatorsk. There a combination of air, missile and artillery attacks pounded the Ukrainian defenders.

Despite the tragic levels of civilian casualties and damage in besieged Mariupol and Kharkiv, the Russians still haven’t been able to capture any of the cities that have been fought for weeks. In the Donbass, Ukrainian and Russian forces continue fighting over control of the cities of Lysichansk, Popasna, Rubizne and Severodensk.

Ukrainian defenders also managed to push Russian forces away from Mykolaiv (outside the Donbass and further west) and made some progress in their move south to recapture Kherson, the first major Russian city captured in February. is of. Ukrainian forces are also advancing south towards Volnovakha, likely to relieve the besieged Mariupol, the real site of civil devastation, where more than 5,000 residents have died.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia would not halt its military operation in Ukraine before or until the next round of peace talks began.

There are some areas in the south where Russian forces are advancing. Taking control of Izium, Russian troops moved further to threaten Slovensk and Kramatorsk, the city in which the tragic train station was attacked on Friday. According to Ukrainian experts, this is the area of ​​greatest concentration of Russian forces in the past week.

Last Tuesday, Russian troops also took control of the village of Brzakivka, moving towards Barvinkov in the region. Other towns and villages being fought in the Donbass and to the south include Avdievka, Chuhuiv, Derhachi, Kreminna, Lozova, Marinka, Vuhldar and Zolot. Intense artillery and air strikes continue along these front lines.

In the formerly occupied territories in the north, Ukrainian authorities have begun to report overall civilian deaths and injuries as a result of the Russian occupation. On Sunday, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova said 1,222 residents had died in the Kyiv region. It also includes the city of Buka. Officials also say that more than 700 civilians were killed in Chernihiv, the northeastern region of the city. Chernihiv city mayor Vladislav Atroshenko said last week that 70 percent of the city’s buildings were damaged or destroyed during the month of the war. The city had a pre-war population of just over 300,000.

On Monday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had reported 1,793 civilian deaths and 2,439 civilian injuries across Ukraine since the war began on February 24. US intelligence believes the true number is some five times higher, as previously reported by newsweek,

“It’s bad,” says the DIA officer. “And I don’t want to say it’s not too bad. But I can’t help but insist that we are clearly not seeing the war. Where there’s been intense ground fighting and Ukrainian and Russian forces have been fighting, I’m not sure what’s going on.” Between the standoff, the destruction is almost total. But in terms of actual damage in Kyiv or other cities outside the war zone, and with respect to civilian casualties overall, the evidence contradicts the dominant narrative.”

Asked whether Buka and Kramatorsk were war crimes, the official said it was a matter for the courts to decide. “A large part of the all outspoken outburst on war crimes is to instigate a flag-bearing public in America to continue caring, while also prompting the Ukrainian people to indignate and sacrifice.

“I’m not arguing that wars aren’t crimes, but just because there are horrific images, it doesn’t mean that in every case there are…”.

The official says it is dangerous to attribute one or several graves and civilian disaster scenes to Russian vandalism rather than being realistic about the looting of the war.

The official also worries that attributing the destruction only to Russian conduct, and not to war, poses future threats.

“If we blame Putin for all the damage, like he commanded it and it’s entirely because of Russian war crimes, we’re going to walk away from Ukraine with some confusion in our heads that modern war.” can be fought more clearly, that the Ukraine war is entirely an anomaly created by Russia’s behavior. This war is just demonstrating how devastating any war on this scale would be.”

“Now everyone is talking about modernizing NATO forces and spending more on conventional warfare preparations in the future,” the official said.

The official says the Ukraine war should be a reminder of how important it is to prevent the war from starting in the first place, and how important it is to have the right defense: strong regional forces with abundant anti-tank weapons and strong air defenses. .

“Russia is a paper tiger, a mean and angry tiger, who will put us to death if we are not alert. But it is time, however, to think about how Europe should be protected, not That only more weapons in the future instead of piling on, as if nothing has changed.”

While the information war is behind the ground war on the subject of atrocities, US military and intelligence experts say neither side has much chance of defeating each other in the short term. And as a result of that standoff, Ukraine is calling for talks again.

On Sunday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba told NBC News that the opportunity should be seized if talks with Russia help prevent at least one more bloodshed.

“It is extremely difficult to even think of sitting at the negotiating table with those who seek justification for all these atrocities and war crimes that have caused such monstrous harm to Ukraine,” he said. “But I understand one thing… Whatever I feel I should take advantage of this opportunity. If I have an opportunity to save human life, village, city from destruction then I will take this opportunity.”

President Zelensky also spoke of talks on Sunday, which told 60 minutes of a possible meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, took a shot at NATO and the international community for its “bureaucratic” approach to diplomacy.

“So the way I’m talking to them [the Russians] Totally justified,” said Zelensky. I have no more life to give. I have no more feelings. I am no longer interested in his diplomacy that leads to the destruction of my country. “

Zelensky says he envisions that the two countries will “fight and bargain for a long time” over the occupied territories, acknowledging briefly that the end of hostilities may come before Russia can withdraw.

“Perhaps it is heartless to insist that we look at Ukraine with precision without human sentiment,” the DIA official says.

“But for those who think that thousands of people have been killed and that Russia is deliberately killing civilians and pursuing genocide, I say it is even more important to find a diplomatic solution to stop the fighting. There is logic. But nothing is going to happen in the coming days or weeks. To change the reality on the battlefield. So stopping the fighting should be our top priority.”

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