Russians Helped Saddam Hussein During Invasion
Russian officials collected intelligence on U.S. troop movements and attack plans from inside the American military command leading the 2003 invasion of Iraq and passed that information to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to a U.S. military study released yesterday. The intelligence reports, which the study said were provided to Hussein through the Russian ambassador in Baghdad at the height of the U.S. assault, warned accurately that American formations intended to bypass Iraqi cities on their thrust toward Baghdad. The reports provided some specific numbers on U.S. troops, units and locations, according to Iraqi documents dated March and April 2003 and later captured by the United States.
More links and excerpts at OTB News.
The Russians deny this and one analyst quoted in the story suggests that it was likely a “freelancer” rather than someone acting on the behest of the Putin government. Regardless, though, this is quite disturbing and, as Michael O’Hanlon notes, “a stark betrayal.”
Frankly, allowing the Russians to have representatives in our command center given their strong opposition to the war and all they did to derail our efforts at the U.N. leading up to the war, is incomprehensible.
Update: An alternative possibility is mentioned by the NYT’s Thom Shanker:
[T]he study notes that some information obtained by Iraq from Russian sources was false, raising at least the possibility that it was circulated as part of a deliberate American campaign intended to fool or demoralize Iraqi troops and leaders. Military officers have disclosed separately that false war plans were part of the campaign, and it remains unclear whether any Russians may have played into that strategy.
Of course, it could also be that misinformation was deliberately fed to the Russians to ascertain the source of suspected leaks.
It could also be that sources inside the Iraqi military fabricated stories about Russian sources in order to impress Saddam. I wouldn’t stake out a strong position based on the testimony of a few sources inside the Iraqi govt.