October 7, 2022

Top US spy says war in Ukraine will likely become ‘more unpredictable and escalatory’

3 min read

Director of National Intelligence Aurel Haynes Putin painted a grim and uncertain picture of the next phase of the two-month-old attack, which he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that showed no signs of abating.

Even if Russia succeeds in Donbass, where Moscow is currently focusing on its military efforts, “we are not convinced that fighting in Donbass will effectively end the war,” Haynes said. The intelligence community estimates that Putin is “preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine, during which he still intends to pursue goals beyond Donbass,” he said.

In the coming months, Russia’s tactics, as has been the case during the war, will fall on one man: Putin. And his decisions are likely to make it harder for the intelligence community to make predictions in the coming months, Hans said, in part because “Putin faces similarities between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities.” Is.”

“At the very least, we believe that the dispute will usher in a period of further ad hoc decision-making in Russia, both with the domestic adjustment needed to maintain this pressure, as well as with the military conflict with Ukraine and the West,” she said.

And the current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to tougher methods, including enforcing martial law, restructuring industrial production, or possibly increasing military action needed to achieve his goals. Resources can be released, or if the conflict escalates. He thinks Russia is losing in Ukraine. “

The intelligence community believes that if Russia wants to achieve its maximum goals for the conflict – which Haynes said involves building a land bridge to Moldova in the southern part of the country – it will be completed within Russia. Military mobilization will be needed, one step at a time. He hasn’t taken it yet.

Haynes said that in the near future, Putin wants to take full control of the two eastern oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, “crush” Ukrainian forces fighting to block the line in the east and seize the Kherson area. And control the water supply of Crimea.

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But for now, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Scott Barrier, said at the same hearing that the controversy is stalled.

“The Russians are not winning, and the Ukrainians are not winning, and we have some setbacks here,” Barrier said.

Haynes called the state of the conflict a “war of attrition.” And at least for now, he said, as both sides believe they can continue to make military progress, “we see no viable way to negotiate, at least in the short term. “

Nuclear concerns

Despite the uncertainty, the United States does not believe there is an “easy” threat that Putin will move to use nuclear weapons, Hans and Barrier told lawmakers – even as the threat grows in Washington. It is said that increasing Western support for Ukraine will provoke Russia.

“Obviously we are in a position where we support Ukraine, but we also do not want World War III to end, and we do not want a situation where actors are using nuclear weapons.” ۔ Haynes said. “Our ideology [is] “There is no possibility of Putin using nuclear weapons.”

Barrier, in particular, said the United States did not expect Russia to use nuclear weapons immediately on strategy or on the battlefield.

Haynes said Putin would likely turn to nuclear weapons only if he saw an existential threat to his government or Russia. That could happen if Putin believes he is losing the war in Ukraine, especially if he thinks NATO is “either intervening or intervening in that context.”

“But there are a lot of things he will do in the context of growing before he can get a nuclear weapon,” he said. “And he’s likely to be involved in some signaling beyond what he has done so far.”

Michael Conte of CNN contributed to this report.

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