In February, with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine days away, officials in Kyiv were busy making plans to attack Moscow.
Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the country’s military intelligence directorate, the HUR, instructed one of his officers “to get ready for mass strikes on 24 February … with everything the HUR had,” according to a classified report from the U.S. National Security Agency. Officials even mused about a sea-based strike using TNT in the Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk, a largely symbolic operation that would nevertheless demonstrate Ukraine’s ability to hit deep inside enemy territory.
Back in Washington, officials were secretly monitoring the Ukrainians’ plans. The White House had long worried that attacks inside Russia could provoke an aggressive response from the Kremlin.
On Feb. 22, two days before the anniversary, the CIA circulated a new classified report: The HUR “had agreed, at Washington’s request, to postpone strikes” on Moscow. The documents, part of a trove of classified information allegedly leaked on a gaming server by a 21-year-old member of the National Guard, don’t explain precisely who interceded and why the Ukrainians agreed to stand down. [Continue reading…]