Buried in a recently published New York Times deep dive into the last 10 months of the war in Ukraine is a little-known fact – Ukraine’s military and intelligence division attempted to assassinate the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov against the concerns of U.S. officials that it would lead to extreme Russian military escalation.
The article, published Saturday, has not garnered much attention from the U.S. mainstream media. However, Russian state media has taken notice.
According to the piece in the Times, in the spring, Russia’s top military leadership decided that generals needed to make trips to the front line due to poor morale among Russian forces. However, during their visits, Russian generals positioned themselves near communications arrays and antennas making it easy for U.S. intel to identify and locate top Russian commanders in Ukraine.
Despite Ukrainian forces locating and killing several Russian generals, frontline visits from commanders continued until Gen. Valery Gerasimov made secret arrangements to visit the frontlines as well. While U.S. intel had picked up on Gerasimov’s plans, Washington decided not to share the information with Ukraine for fear that Ukrainian forces would strike, leading to an uncontrollable Russian escalation.
Despite the U.S. not passing along Gerasimov’s plans, the Ukrainians learned of the general’s trip. According to a senior American official, “We told them not to do it. We were like, ‘Hey, that’s too much.” Upon receiving the American’s request not to launch the attack, Ukrainian officials announced that the attack had already been undertaken. Dozens of Russians were killed in the attack that targeted the general. However, Gerasimov was unharmed.
After the failed attempt to kill Gerasimov, Russian generals stopped visiting the frontlines.
In May it came to light that the U.S. was engaged in more in-depth intelligence sharing with Ukraine. The increase in information sharing led to specific strikes that killed roughly 12 Russian generals. Given that it was the early part of the war, 12 generals is an exceptionally high number of top commanders to be killed.
While the war in Ukraine might not have gotten as far as it has had General Gerasimov been killed in the strike, it is very likely that the world would be engaged in a nuclear conflict between two, if not more, nuclear-armed countries by this point.