For US intelligence director Avril Haines, Putin’s goal is still to attack Kiev and Odessa, but to do so he could use asymmetrical tools such as “cyber attacks and nuclear weapons”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin still intends to occupy much of Ukraine, but his forces are so degraded by the fighting that they will likely only achieve incremental gains in the short term. This was said by US intelligence director Avril Haines, outlining the current assessment of US intelligence after just over four months of war.
According to US intelligence, the Russians will take years to recover from their efforts in Ukraine, and “during this time, we expect they will rely more on asymmetrical tools at their disposal”, for example “cyber attacks, energy control, even nuclear weapons “for the purpose of” managing and projecting power and influence globally “. “We perceive – added Haines – a fracture between Putin’s short-term military objectives in this region and his military capabilities. A mismatch between his ambitions and what the military is capable of achieving”.
For this reason, according to the US intelligence services, Russia is starting to focus on Donetsk, but will struggle to overcome it. Putin would be convinced that time is on his side because the West will eventually tire of supporting Ukraine. “None of this bodes well for a peaceful resolution. We believe the war in Ukraine will last for a long time,” said Haines.
According to Haines, there are three probable scenarios that could be brought into focus in the coming weeks and months: “The most likely is that the conflict will remain an overwhelming struggle in which the Russians get incremental results, but no breakthroughs.” Russia could take Luhansk and much of Donetsk by autumn, as well as consolidate control of southern Ukraine. The second scenario is instead that there is a turning point, and that for this reason Putin wants to return to focus again on Kiev or Odessa. The third scenario is that “Ukraine can stabilize the front line and regain control of Kherson or elsewhere in southern Ukraine”.