SpyCast 2.28.23
Ep 576 | 2.28.23

Ukraine & Intelligence: One Year on – with Shane Harris

Show Notes


Shane Harris (Twitter, LinkedIn) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss the role of intelligence in the Ukraine conflict one year after it began. Shane reports on intelligence for the Washington Post and is the author of two books.

What You’ll Learn


  • Where we are with the war in Ukraine
  • The role intelligence agencies are playing in the conflict
  • The leadership of Zelensky and Putin
  • What it’s like to report on spies
  • Dealing with sources inside the intelligence agencies


  • The tenacity of the Ukrainian people and army
  • History as both repetitive and unpredictable 

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

On February 24th of 2022, Russian forces crossed the Eastern border of Ukraine with the intent of targeting and capturing the city of Kiev. The war in Ukraine has brought trench warfare back to the European continent for the first time since World War II, and has displaced at least 8 million Ukrainian people. Now, after a year of devastating loss and inspiring resistance from the Ukrainian country, it is clear that no one could have predicted where the war stands today. 

This week on SpyCast, Shane Harris of The Washington Post joins Andrew to reflect on the previous year and discuss the role of intelligence within the war in Ukraine. He has been writing about these issues for more than two decades, including a period with the Wall Street Journal. He is the author of two books, The Watchers, on the rise of surveillance in the US, and @War, on the rise of the military-internet complex. He was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2021.


Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, after Russia. The U.S. state closest in size, is Texas, the second largest state in the country, after Alaska. By way of comparison, Texas is around 2.8 times the size of the U.K.

Quote of the Week

“At the outset, [I] believed that what we were looking at was probably a pretty swift Russian victory … They would come in, they would decapitate the central government in Kiev in the first 72 hours, and it would be bloody, and it would be violent, but that Russia would prevail because they were deemed to have the superior military in terms of technology experience numbers. Turns out, all those things were spectacularly wrong.” – Shane Harris.




*Beginner Resources*



  • Between Two Fires, J. Yaffa (Duggan Books, 2020)
  • The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, S. Plokhy (Basic Books, 2017)
  • Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev, A. Kurkov (Harvill Press, 2015)
  • The New Cold War, E. Lucas (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*