Marion McKeone: Biden’s dire warnings aim to remove Putin’s element of surprise

American authorities insist that president Joe Biden’s claims that Russia is about to invade Ukraine are not a call to war, but a candid sharing of the intelligence available to them

Ukrainian military forces use tanks, self-propelled guns and other armoured vehicles to conduct live-fire exercises near the town of Chuguev, Kharkiv region. Picture: Getty

Nineteen years ago, Colin Powell, then US secretary of state, tasked with making the diplomatic case for the US-led invasion of Iraq, addressed an openly sceptical UN Security Council. With the aid of several visual props, including a 45-slide presentation and a glass vial containing a teaspoon of powder that was used as an anthrax stand-in, Powell’s awkward address became a metaphor for one of the greatest intelligence failures in US history.

In truth, the ...