The US intelligence community has ruled that Russian President Vladimir Putin is willing to dig into the war in Ukraine and let it drag on for some time – and along the way, Putin may resort to extreme measures to ensure Russia wins in the end US top spies warned Tuesday.
The next steps Putin could take could include escalating domestic measures that could contribute to the war effort, such as imposing martial law, US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines warned in a briefing Tuesday.
“The uncertain nature of the struggle… coupled with the reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities, likely means that in the coming months [be] more unpredictable and potentially escalating,” DNI Haines told the senators. “The current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will resort to more drastic means, including imposing martial law, refocusing industrial production, or potentially escalating military actions to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives. as the conflict continues.”
The assessment, which Haines handed over to lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, comes as the Russian war in Ukraine enters its 76th day. Russian forces have turned their attention to taking eastern Ukraine in recent weeks after failing to take the capital Kiev in the early days of the war due to a series of logistical and planning problems.
And now that the Russian military has turned its focus to the Donbas, or eastern parts of Ukraine, the fighting is beginning to reach a sort of “stalemate,” Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director Scott Berrier said Tuesday.
“I would characterize it as the Russians not winning, and the Ukrainians not winning, and we’re kind of at a stalemate here,” Berrier said.
Putin, however, does not consider the Donbas the last stand in Ukraine, Haines warned, suggesting more carnage may be on the way. Putin sees it as just a “temporary” focus so that the Russian military can “retake the initiative,” Haines said.
“We are not confident that the battle in the Donbas will effectively end the war,” Haines said. “We assess that President Putin is preparing for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, in which he still plans to achieve goals beyond the Donbas.”
The estimate Putin could escalate comes a day after Russia’s Victory Day, when Russians celebrate World War II victory — a day when both US and Ukrainian officials had warned that Putin would seize to send more troops for the war. to mobilize. Victory Day came and went without any public mobilization.
But Russians are beginning to see signs that Putin could be secretly doing the job of attracting more resources to keep the war effort functioning in the near term, just as Haines warns that Putin has his sights set on doubling up. Employees of the Moscow metro have been threatened in recent days that they would be sent to war in a possible mobilization “if there are not enough soldiers to be sent to the ‘special operation’,” one of the workers’ wives said. to the Coalition for Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Russia and Verstka.media, using the term Russia to describe the war in Ukraine.
†We see Wagner being used in running Ukraine,†
“At a meeting at the subway depot…all the men were ordered to undergo an extraordinary medical examination for later possible deployment to the war in Ukraine,” she said, adding that if they disobeyed, they would be told that they could be fired or prosecuted. “It was stated precisely and clearly that the leadership is obliged to allocate a certain number of people for any deployments to the war.”
The Daily Beast has not independently verified the claims.
Russia has already lost tens of thousands of troops in the invasion and has been looking for alternative sources of manpower for weeks. Russia is looking to Syria for more fighters, the Wall Street Journal reported, and Russia’s defense minister has said Russia is recruiting 16,000 people from the Middle East to fight in Ukraine as well.
Members of Congress have been questioning the US intelligence community for weeks about whether the Kremlin has tapped into mercenaries working for a private Russian contractor known as the Wagner Group.
Haines confirmed on Tuesday that the Russian government has indeed brought in Wagner for operations in Ukraine. “We see Wagner being used in running Ukraine. We see that,” Haines said. “Russia has effectively deployed them in Ukraine.”
US intelligence estimates that Putin plans to prolong the war for some time could spell disaster. Putin is more likely to miscalculate and resort to using nuclear weapons, Haines warned.
Putin would only “allow the use of nuclear weapons if he senses an existential threat to the Russian state,” she said, adding that “with tensions this high, there is always a greater potential for miscalculation — unintended escalation.”
“There is no immediate potential for Putin to use nuclear weapons,” Haines clarified.