Ukraine Update: 20 February, 2022 (Evening)

Diplomacy may be afforded one final opportunity to prevent war from erupting in Ukraine. US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed in principle to meet for a summit meeting to discuss the ‘security and stability’ of Europe. Biden added that he will attend only if an invasion has not happened. The office of French President Emanuel Macron was swift to take credit for the summit idea as well as getting both the US and Russian leaders to agree. Macron has been attempting to shoehorn his way onto centerstage and keep France in the diplomatic limelight for weeks now. It serves his purposes to take credit for brokering a summit and helping to bring about an eleventh-hour peaceful solution to the crisis. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss the summit when they meet on 24 February.

At this point in the crisis, open source intelligence ‘experts’ are tripping over themselves in an attempt to correctly identify from satellite photographs the extent of military deployments near the Ukrainian border. Their ‘analysis’ has flip-flopped severely in recent days. If anything, this crisis is highlighting the limits of OSINT analysts and pointing out their limited value in a fluid, fast-moving situation like this crisis. I realize this is not the first time I’ve broached the topic, yet I felt it was appropriate to mention this evening. It will likely be the last time I mention the OSINT sources who seem to be more interested in picking up followers on social media then they do with providing useful conclusions to the data.

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