Putin has given up on ambitions to conquer Ukraine after military losses that could take a decade to repair, says US intel
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has scaled back his ambitions in Ukraine, US intel says.
- He is focused on the more modest goal of preventing Ukraine from joining NATO, an official said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has drastically scaled back his ambitions in Ukraine after Russian military setbacks, US intelligence officials said.
Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that Putin was now focused on the more limited goal of preventing Ukraine from joining NATO, the defense treaty that forms the main bulwark against Russian aggression in Europe.
"We assess that Putin probably has scaled back his immediate ambitions to consolidate control of the occupied territory in eastern and southern Ukraine and ensuring that Ukraine will never become a NATO ally," Haines said.
"He may be willing to claim at least a temporary victory based on roughly the territory he has occupied," Haines added.
Defense Intelligence Agency director Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier added that it may take up to a decade from Russia to replenish its troops.
"It's gonna take them a while to build back to more advanced" Berrier said, according to the New York Post.
"The estimates go from five to 10 years based on how sanctions affect them and their ability to put technology back into their force."
When Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, US intelligence said that the Kremlin aimed to topple the government in Kyiv, and seize control of the country.
But Ukrainian forces repelled the Russian military in the Kyiv region, then pushed them back along a broad front of territory they had seized in southern and eastern Ukraine. Despite the setbacks, last June Haines said Putin still believed that seizing control of most of Ukraine was possible.
In recent months, Russian attempts to seize more territory in those regions have faltered, amid steep battlefield losses. Haines said that Russia was now suffering severe personnel and ammunition shortages.
"Russian forces gained less territory in April than during any of the three previous months as they appeared to transition from offensive to defensive operations along the front lines," Haines said.
However, she added that Ukraine remained heavily dependent on Western weapons to offset Russia's advantage in manpower, that neither side had a decisive advantage and the conflict would likely continue to be a "brutally grinding war of attrition."
Haines told lawmakers Thursday that Putin may seek a ceasefire in order to seek to rebuild Russia's depleted military, which according to US estimates has suffered more than 200,000 casualties.
Putin may believe that a ceasefire would be to his advantage as a way of prolonging the conflict, and eroding Western support for Ukraine, said Haines.
"We continue to assess that Putin most likely calculates that time works in his favor and that prolonging the war may be his best remaining pathway to eventually securing Russia's strategic interests in Ukraine," Haines said
"Putin's willingness to consider a negotiated pause may be based on his assessment that a pause would provide a respite for Russian forces as they could try to use that time to regain strength before resuming offensive operations at some point in the future, while buying time for what he hopes would be an erosion of western support for Ukraine," Haines said.
"Moscow has suffered military losses that will require years of rebuilding and leave it less capable of posing a conventional military threat to Europe and operating assertively in Eurasia and on the global stage," Haines said.
"As a result, Russia will become even more reliant on asymmetric options such as nuclear, cyber, space capabilities, and on China."
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