what is the role of western spy services in the war?

RQ-4 Global Hawk, America’s largest drone.Picture AFP

‘Ukraine’s eyes and ears in the sky’ are the names of the American and British RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft these days. The Boeing, which can intercept and intercept communications deep inside Ukraine with their sensors, regularly skims along the Ukrainian border in Poland, Slovakia and Romania. And they can be followed by flight spotters and via websites like FlightRadar24.

Before the Russian invasion began, RC-135s flew incessantly over Ukraine to monitor the build-up of Russian troops across the border. Now the American and British planes are operating in NATO’s neighbors to Ukraine because they do not want to become a target of the Russian Air Force. The United States also uses drones to spy on the Russians, including in the international airspace over the Black Sea.

With Global Hawk, the largest drone in the United States flying at high altitudes, troop formations can be depicted. Also in the air are NATO Awacs radars orbiting Poland and Romania near the Ukrainian border. Officially, the Awacs aircraft are in the air to monitor Member States’ airspace. But the Boeing E-3 also makes it possible to spy on the Russian Air Force’s operations in Ukrainian airspace up to 400 kilometers.

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Major General Pieter Cobelens, former director of the Dutch military intelligence service MIVD, does not believe that the West is ‘disabled’ now that it can no longer fly over Ukraine. “The closer you are to the enemy, the better, of course,” said Major General BD. “By flying past the borders, there is still plenty to see and valuable information to the surface.”

The US and British governments are constantly releasing details of the actions of the Russian invading army. Or they warn of possible actions on the part of Moscow, such as the use of chemical weapons. How do they get that information? And how do they know, for example, that Putin’s advisers are not telling him the truth about the disappointing course of the war?

The reconnaissance and observation flights of the Boeing and drones are only part of the resources that the United States in particular spends learning all about the Russian actions. With the deployment of satellites, the old trusted spy work, the use of informants in Russia and the establishment of wiretapping operations, efforts are also being made to get as complete an intelligence picture as possible.