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U.S. Spy Agencies Deny Failure on Crimea Seizure

<p>United States spy agencies denied intelligence failures stemming from Russia’s military incursion into the Crimean peninsula in the wake of congressional criticism.</p>
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United States spy agencies late Wednesday denied intelligence failures stemming from Russia’s military incursion into the Crimean peninsula.

In a Senate hearing early Wednesday, Sen. John McCain assailed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for what he called a “massive failure” by U.S. military intelligence in the days leading up to the Russian seizure of the Ukraine region.

But the CIA’s spokesman on Wednesday night said that the agency has kept members of Congress updated since the crisis began.

"Since the beginning of the political unrest in Ukraine, the CIA has regularly updated policymakers to ensure they have an accurate and timely picture of the unfolding crisis," CIA spokesman Todd Ebitz said. "These updates have included warnings of possible scenarios for a Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Any suggestion otherwise is flat wrong."

A spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence also denied that the intelligence community failed to see that Russia was going to send troops into Crimea, and added that the intelligence community has "frequently warned" of worrying trends in Russia since President Vladimir Putin came back into office.

"Reports that the intelligence community was caught off guard by events in Crimea are highly inaccurate," Shawn Turner told NBC News on Wednesday night.

Turner said that on February 26 the IC warned that Crimea was a "flashpoint for Russian-Ukraine military conflict."

"The assessment included an analysis of Russian military assets staged for a potential deployment, and those already in Ukraine that could be used for other purposes. It clearly stated that the Russian military was likely making preparations for contingency operations in the Crimea and noted that such operations could be executed with little additional warning," Turner said.

—Courtney Kube