For the people who still believe Ukraine wasn’t a threat to Russia before the 2022 escalation of hostilities, this story in today’s AFR points out that the CIA were in Ukraine from 2016 (and I’d guess a lot earlier than that).

The AFR says: 

It took root a decade ago, coming together in fits and starts under three very different US presidents, pushed forward by key individuals who often took daring risks. It has transformed Ukraine, whose intelligence agencies were long seen as thoroughly compromised by Russia, into one of Washington’s most important intelligence partners against the Kremlin today.

The listening post in the Ukrainian forest is part of a CIA-supported network of spy bases constructed in the past eight years that includes 12 secret locations along the Russian border. 

About 2016, the CIA began training an elite Ukrainian commando force – known as Unit 2245 – which captured Russian drones and communications gear so that CIA technicians could reverse-engineer them and crack Moscow’s encryption systems. (One officer in the unit was Kyrylo Budanov, now the general leading Ukraine’s military intelligence.)

So the CIA has been building secret bases and training a commando force on Russia’s border with Ukraine – and we’re to believe Russia was expected to do nothing? Ukraine may not have been a full NATO member in early 2022, but they were NATO-adjunct,  already being used as a tool of the US against Russia’s interests in many of the same ways as they would be when became a full NATO member.