It was the third after Saddam’s WMDs and Taliban takeover of Kabul, he said
Czech President Milos Zeman lashed out at the US intelligence community for their claim that Russia would invade Ukraine, which so far has failed to materialize. It adds to their track record of making wrong predictions about crucial events, he argued in an interview published by the newspaper MF DNES on Thursday.
"The first was in Iraq, where no weapons of mass destruction were found. The second was in Afghanistan, when they claimed that the Taliban would never conquer Kabul. And the third is now," the president explained.
The politician was referring to the US justification for the 2003 invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the assessment that the American-backed national government of Afghanistan would be able to defend against the militant Taliban movement after a scheduled withdrawal of foreign troops. On both counts American intelligence was seriously mistaken.
Washington has been warning for months that Russia was preparing a military invasion of Ukraine, and for weeks has been claiming that the attack was imminent. Some Western media went further and named Tuesday or Wednesday this week as the days Russia could have attacked Ukraine.
Ukraine’s President Volodymir Zelensky, who otherwise voiced skepticism about the purported Russian threat, made Wednesday a holiday celebrating Ukrainian national unity.
Russia denied having any aggressive plans for Ukraine since the accusations were first made public in November 2021.
The Czech president said he was informed about a pending Russian attack against Ukraine based on intelligence from the US, and that the tip proved to be wrong.
"I am not asking the CIA what sources of information it had. But based on the three cases I mentioned, I doubt the quality of these sources," he said.
He predicted that there would be no Russian-Ukrainian war, arguing that Moscow didn’t have much to win and had a lot to lose, if one were to happen. Some sort of border conflict involving Ukraine’s breakaway region of Donbas may happen, but not a full-scale war, he believes.
He rejected the idea that Russia canceled its aggression due to deterrence mounted by the US and its allies, saying he saw such reasoning as a US attempt "to cover up the embarrassment" of being proven wrong again.
Zeman, who is considered "pro-Russian" by many observers, questioned claims made about Moscow’s alleged aggressive intentions and malign activities on many occasions. Most notably, he publicly doubted his own country’s intelligence services, when they accused Russia of blowing up Czech ammunition depots in 2014 — allegedly to cut clandestine supplies of weapons to Ukraine. Zeman said he was not shown any convincing evidence proving the claim.