How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, June 4

Sasha Sverdlova

The Washington Post published a report on how American intelligence agencies are reviewing their misses on Ukraine and Russia. It states that three months into the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S spy agencies are examining what they got wrong before the war started. The review is ongoing while U.S intelligence continues to support Ukraine and try to avoid a direct war with Russia. Both parties question whether the US could have done more if Ukraine’s assessment had been less pessimistic. Ultimately, writes the WP, the agencies misjudge Ukraine while giving too much credit to Russia and its president. Now, the National Intelligence Council will review how the agencies assessed both “will to fight” and “capacity to fight” as both criteria are challenging when it comes to effective analysis and methodology. According to US defense and intelligence experts, the analysts might have relied too much on counting Russia’s inventory and cyber tools. According to the current director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, pre-war, he thought Ukrainians were not as ready as they should have been. He acknowledges that the assessment was inaccurate and that Ukrainians have been fighting bravely and honorably. At the same time, there was evidence of Ukraine’s determination and readiness, at least based on hardened public attitudes towards Moscow and years of training in combat and cyber defense in Donbas.

The Economist writes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ended the nuclear taboo. Following America’s destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world entered an era of nuclear deterrence and an overall sense of the wrongness of nuclear weapons. Russia breaks this taboo by openly threatening the world with nukes, including through its state-owned TV. According to Nina Tannenwald, a political scientist at Brown University, some Russian official makes explicit nuclear threats every few days. The risks of Putin escalating beyond the nuclear threshold are small but real, writes the outlet, while eastern European officials believe Germany, Italy, and France over-egg them. Beyond the immediate risk of Russia using its Sarmats or Poseidons, there is also a bigger issue of breaking the nuclear taboo. As there are fewer and fewer people remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world tends to forget that nuclear wars won’t have winners. Significant parts of the populations in Britain, France, and Israel were supporting the use of nuclear weapons in conflicts with non-nuclear nations, providing they were more effective than conventional ones. As the global nuclear discourse evolves, the question of who wins in Ukraine is world-changing. If Ukraine is able to recover its territories, perhaps the world will see that nukes are only good for terrible dictators who want to scare everyone and nothing more.

The former Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zagorodniuk wrote an op-ed for The Guardian, providing his perspective on the potential outcome of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Zagorodniuk writes that Ukrainians want peace more than anyone in the world, but not at the cost of ceding Ukraine’s territories. He claims any concessions would just reward Putin’s warmongering strategy. Zagorodniuk is surprised by Kissinger’s proposal to end the war as soon as possible and writes that Russia picked up the idea to blame Ukraine for a desire to continue an unnecessary war. Ex-minister believes that Putin’s goal in Ukraine is to end Ukraine’s existence, and therefore, he thinks the compromise with Kremlin is impossible. As Russians are using 1960-s antique tanks, Zagorodniuk believes they are on the edge of their capabilities, and that’s why they are pushing the idea of compromise. The only way to achieve peace is to stop accepting Russia’s bullying behavior, and western leaders have to be consistent in this approach, summarizes Zagorodniuk.