Clapper: Ukraine was not an intelligence failure

U.S. intelligence did not fail ahead of Russia's Crimean invasion, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Monday.

"I have lived through some genuine intelligence failures in my career, and this was not a failure by any stretch," Clapper said in an interview with WTOP.

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Clapper was disputing contentions by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and others that the U.S. was taken by surprise when Russia invaded Ukraine to take control of Crimea.

“The fact is, Mr. Secretary, it was not predicted by our intelligence. That is well known, which is another massive failure because of our total misreading of the intentions of Vladimir Putin,” McCain said to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at a hearing last week.

Clapper, however, told WTOP the intelligence community offered a warning ahead of time.

“We tracked [the situation in Ukraine] pretty carefully and portrayed what the possibilities were and certainly portrayed the difficulties we'd have, because of the movements of Russian troops and provided anticipatory warning of their incursion into Crimea," Clapper said.

"We were following closely the political and economic developments in Ukraine. We spoke to it in our statement for the record at the time and as the situation unfolded with the Russians,” he added.

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has been condemned by the United States and other European countries, but Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear eager to back down in the Crimean Peninsula.

Clapper said that the situation was “not a throwback to the Cold War, but it certainly reminds one of the vestiges of the Cold War.”

The intelligence chief called Putin a “product of the Cold War.”

“He's a former KGB officer, and I think he has a grand view of greater Russia, and he attaches great importance to the 'near abroad,' which is those countries that were a part of the Soviet Union,” Clapper said.

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