‘Tiger Team’ helps Biden deal with Putin in Ukraine crisis

Biden outlined a detailed plan for Russia’s response to the Ukraine crisis, with support from “Tiger Team,” a group of advisers tasked with anticipating Putin’s every calculation.

Last weekend, US President Joe Biden visited Camp David, a resort located on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Maryland. But he did not come here to rest, as Russia is deploying more than 100,000 troops close to the Ukrainian border and US intelligence still believes that Moscow has enough forces to “overrun” the Ukrainian capital Kiev in 48 hours.

At the resort located under the canopy of oak and birch forests, Biden listened to Secretary of State Antony Blinken briefly report on the situation through a secure videoconference system, and recommended the US take the next step in the response plan. deputy.

Time to evacuate the US embassy in Kiev, Blinken suggested. Biden agrees.

US President Joe Biden (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Photo: Reuters.

US President Joe Biden (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters.

Since the end of last year, the Biden administration has created a task force called “Tiger Team” to handle the Ukraine crisis and develop a multi-step response strategy, depending on how Russia moves. Foreign Minister Blinken and “Tiger Team” assessed that Russia’s military activity last weekend crossed another “line” in the plan.

The “Tiger Team” is a team led by the director of strategy for the US National Security Council Alexander Bick. They include officials and experts from the intelligence community, the State Department, the Treasury Department, Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense, the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Energy, and the Agency for International Development. America.

The main task of the group is to focus on studying actions that can prevent an attack from Russia, as well as building a chain of responses that will be triggered if Russia attacks Ukraine, including sanctions, transfers military, diplomatic messages, security for embassy staff, humanitarian assistance and cyber warfare.

A few days earlier, President Biden had approved another action proposed by the group, sending 3,000 elite paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland. On February 3, he decided to declassify and release intelligence about a potential Russian plan that he said was to create a pretext to mobilize war with Ukraine.

President Biden’s moves, as White House officials describe them, indicate that the United States is reacting to Putin’s troop buildup as if an all-out attack on Ukraine was imminent.

The Russian military announced on February 15 that it was withdrawing some units stationed near the Ukrainian border back to bases, but US and European officials warned they had not seen evidence of this claim. Instead, US intelligence officials say Russia has recently even sent more troops to the region.

President Biden told reporters at the White House on February 17 that he thought the risk of Russian aggression was “very high” and that Moscow’s announcement of the withdrawal was only a “diversionary blow”.

“Every sign that we have is that they are preparing to enter Ukraine, to attack Ukraine,” he said. “I have a feeling it’s going to happen in the next few days.”

Presidents Biden and Putin have long been in a confrontational position to make the other loser through a series of coordinated measures, from diplomacy, intelligence, military to economic. Who will win is still unclear.

Some experts say that President Biden has very effectively countered the strategies of his Russian counterpart to split the relationship between the US and its European allies. Efforts to handle the Ukraine crisis have helped “resolve somewhat of the problems we have had in assembling allies since the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan”, said Alexander Vershbow, former US ambassador to Russia and former deputy NATO Secretary General, comments. “The United States is demonstrating much more progressive leadership. That reassures allies even if this crisis leads to other turning points.”

But others point out that President Putin has found a way to force the United States to pay attention to Russia’s security concerns and that President Biden is now forced to react to any move by Moscow. After Putin increased Russia’s military presence near Ukraine early last year, Biden traveled to Geneva in June 2021 hoping to re-establish relations between Moscow and Washington in a more positive direction.

“The US has set the wrong premise for the meeting,” said James Goldgeier, a professor of international relations at American University. “In response to Russia’s move to build up forces, the President proposed a summit. It’s a sign that if Putin wants to get attention, this is a good way to get there.”

The challenge for President Biden right now is huge, according to observers. A Russian attack on Ukraine is likely to shake Wall Street, raise gas prices in the face of high inflation, and create an excuse for Republicans to launch further attacks. politics on his side. After the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer, this was Biden’s second major foreign policy test as president and he must avoid errors as much as possible.

Biden’s strategy so far has been to hold Putin back and prepare for a Russian attack. Increasing the deployment of US troops in Eastern Europe, evacuating embassy staff in Ukraine and declassifying intelligence about Russian intentions are steps taken by “Tiger Team”.

An administration official involved in the effort said the main focus of US actions so far has been to deter and deter Russia, but National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also said planning is needed. Get ready for action in the weeks following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“Tiger Team” conducted two hypothetical scenarios with ministers to assess how to react and find any holes in the plan.

“The reality is what the Russians might do that’s not going to be 100 percent the same in any of these situations,” said US Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer. However, according to him, the main goal of the group is to plan as detailed as possible in order to minimize the time to effectively respond to the scenario of Russian military action.

One action the group recommends is to release the latest possible intelligence on Russia’s plans to make it impossible for Moscow to justify an attack on Ukraine. Biden liked the idea and pushed it.

“We have been transparent with the American people and the world about Russia’s plans and the seriousness of the situation so that everyone can see for themselves what is happening,” the US President said on 15/15. 2 at the White House, referring to Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine. “We shared what we knew and what we were doing.”

In foreign policy circles in Washington, this tactic is known as “disclosure by deterrence.” Vershbow said. The US information “certainly made Russia take a defensive stance, even forcing them to change some of their plans”.

Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, wait for deployment to Europe on February 14 amid heightened tensions on the Ukraine border.  Photo: AFP.

Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, wait for deployment to Europe on February 14 amid heightened tensions on the Ukraine border. Photo: AFP.

Tensions between Russia and the US continued to escalate on February 17 when Russia expelled the deputy US ambassador to Moscow and there were reports of artillery shells in eastern Ukraine as well as reports that Russian troops were transferring sources. blood reserve for soldiers on the front lines. US Secretary of State Blinken had to cancel a trip to Germany to attend a United Nations meeting on the crisis.

U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russian President Putin has not yet decided whether to deploy troops and could still launch an attack in the coming days or weeks. But there are signs that Putin hasn’t had much success with his maximum pressure strategy.

Instead of being divided and confused, European countries have so far united with the US to deal with Russia. Discussions in response to the Ukraine situation have “brought NATO closer together” with a “more unified message and greater determination”, Vershbow said.

See more:

– 5 questions about the Ukraine crisis

– Four months of Russia – Ukraine crisis boiling

– Why does Russia not mobilize troops with Ukraine?

What does the US want in the Ukraine crisis?

Vu Hoang (Follow Time)

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