Russian President Vladimir Putin is still seeking military objectives beyond eastern Ukraine after failing to capture kyiv in the early stages. from the warUS intelligence chief has said.
Speaking to US lawmakers on Tuesday, Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence, said the shift of Russian military operations to Ukraine’s Donbas region in the east is only temporary.
“We assess that President Putin is preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas,” Haines said.
“We assess that Putin’s strategic goals are likely unchanged, suggesting that he views the late March decision to refocus Russian forces on Donbas as just a temporary shift to regain the initiative after the Russian military failed to refocus. managed to capture kyiv.”
Haines said US intelligence has assessed that Putin wants to expand his territory along the Black Sea coast, possibly into Transnistria, a Russia-backed breakaway region of Moldova. Such a move would help Russia secure water supplies to Crimea, which it captured and annexed in 2014, and potentially deny Ukraine access to the sea.
Russia launched their full invasion from Ukraine on February 24 after a months-long standoff in which Moscow amassed troops near the Ukrainian borders as Putin demanded an end to NATO expansion in the former Soviet republics.
But at the end of March, Moscow announced change his war efforts to the Donbass region after a faltering campaign to seize the Ukrainian capital.
On Tuesday, Haines said that early in the invasion, Russia sought to overwhelm Ukrainian forces and quickly capture kyiv to prevent the United States and NATO from being able to provide military aid to Ukraine
“The Russians met more resistance from the Ukraine than they expected, and the performance of their own army revealed a number of major internal challengesforcing them to adjust their initial military objectives, withdraw from kyiv and concentrate on Donbas,” Haines said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned last month that if Russia succeeds in capturing the eastern region, it could make another attempt to capture kyiv.
in exclusive interview with Al Jazeerahe said: “If our forces in Donbas cannot hold their positions, then the risk of a repeated offensive against Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast [province] It’s almost likely.”
On Tuesday, Haines said that with both sides in the conflict believing they can make military gains, the US intelligence community does not see a “viable path of negotiation at least in the short term.”
“The uncertain nature of the battle, which is turning into a war of attrition, combined with the reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current military capabilities likely means that the coming months could see us moving down a path. more unpredictable and potentially staggered trajectory,” he said.
The US intelligence chief also provided an assessment of Russia nuclear posturesaying Moscow’s rhetoric about the possible use of nuclear weapons and recent intercontinental missile tests are meant to “dissuade the United States and the West from increasing lethal aid to Ukraine.”
“Otherwise, we continue to believe that President Putin would likely only authorize the use of nuclear weapons if he perceived an existential threat to the Russian state or regime,” he said. “But we will remain vigilant in monitoring all aspects of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov Also he said in March that Russia would only use nuclear weapons in the event of an “existential threat”.
Later Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of launching cyberattacks in late February against “commercial satellite communications networks to disrupt Ukrainian command and control during the invasion.”
Blinken said the attack had knock-on effects in other European countries.
“The activity disabled very small opening terminals in Ukraine and across Europe,” it said in a statement. “This includes tens of thousands of terminals outside of Ukraine that, among other things, support wind turbines and provide Internet services to private citizens.”
He added that the United States and its allies are taking steps to defend against what he called “irresponsible actions by Russia.”