Washington Bureau

04.09.14

Key Democrat Calls For More Intelligence Sharing With Ukraine

Republicans are not alone in urging President Obama to share intelligence with Ukraine on Russian troop movements. On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) voiced his concerns as well.

A key Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence joined Republican colleagues on Wednesday in urging President Obama to share more intelligence with Ukraine about Russian troops gathered on its border.

In an appearance on MSNBC  Rep. Adam Schiff said he did not think the United States was doing enough to help prepare Ukraine for what it may be facing. “I think we should be doing more,” he said. “There is more we could do to help Ukraine prepare that doesn’t put at risk any of our intelligence gathering methods and the degree that we can track Russian military movements. So I think there is a lot more we could do and a lot more we should do.”

The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that senior military officers were instructed not to provide their Ukrainian counterparts with detailed intelligence briefings on the troops amassed on Ukraine’s border.  Those troops--numbering 80,000, according to recent estimates—include mobile field hospitals as well as fighter aircraft, light infantry and tanks.

Schiff, a seven-term Democrat from Los Angeles County, noted Wednesday, “We certainly have intelligence about Russian troop movements and that intelligence is very alarming. Russia has everything it needs to move into Ukraine at a moment’s notice.”

The California Democrat's call for more intelligence sharing with Ukraine comes a day after Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), who chairs that panel’s subcommittee overseeing U.S. tactical, air and land forces unveiled a plan to increase overall assistance to Ukraine, including intelligence sharing.

In the Senate, John McCain has called on the administration to increase aid to Ukraine as well. In an exchange Tuesday with Secretary of State John Kerry, McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, inverted Teddy Roosevelt’s famous saying, telling Kerry that he “talks loudly and carries a small stick.”

In his remarks, Schiff acknowledges the Obama Administration's worries that any intelligence sharing with Ukraine risked revealing sources and methods to Russia. The California Democrat said there were concerns that Ukraine “is penetrated by Russian intelligence agencies, so we have to be careful what we share that does not disclose sources and methods of our intelligence gathering. But even with those limitations I think there is a lot we can do to help Ukraine prepare, to know what it is up against, and how to maximize its limited resources in the event of a conflict.”