Russian President Vladimir Putin believes he cannot afford to lose in Ukraine and is “doubled down” on war, but shows no signs of planning to use tactical nuclear weapons, the CIA director said on Saturday, Bill Burns.
Despite the failure of Russian forces to capture kyiv and their struggle to advance along the main front lines of the war in the southeastern region of Donbass, the Russian leader has not changed his mind that his troops can defeat those from Ukraine, Burns said.
Putin’s belief in the Russian military’s ability to wear down Ukrainian resistance is unlikely to have been shaken despite key battlefield defeats, the US spy chief told a Financial briefing. Times.
“I think he’s in a state of mind that he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose,” Burns said.
He said Putin had been “baking” for years on Ukraine – formerly part of the Soviet Union – in a “highly explosive combination of grievances, ambition and insecurity”.
Putin was undeterred by the resistance in the war “because he was so betting on the choices he made to launch this invasion,” Burns said.
“I think he’s confident right now that doubling again will allow him to progress,” Burns said.
Tactical nuclear weapons
Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia who spent a lot of time studying the Russian leader, said his Western intelligence agencies and other Western intelligence agencies saw no signs that Moscow was ready to deploy nuclear weapons. tactics in order to achieve a victory in Ukraine or to target Kyiv supporters. .
Russia placed its nuclear forces on high alert shortly after launching the invasion on February 24.
Since then, Putin has issued thinly veiled threats hinting at the willingness to deploy Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons if the West intervenes directly in the Ukrainian conflict.
“We don’t see, as the intelligence community, any practical evidence at this stage of Russian planning for the deployment or even the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons,” Burns said.
“Given the kind of saber-rattling that … we have heard from Russian leaders, we cannot take these possibilities lightly,” he said.
“So we remain very focused as an intelligence service … on those possibilities at a time when the stakes are very high for Russia,” he said.
Burns offered no assessment of the current battlefield situation or predicted how the war would end.
But he said China, which Washington now sees as its main adversary, is closely studying the lessons of the war and what they mean for Beijing’s desire to take control of Taiwan.
Burns said he does not believe Chinese President Xi Jinping has changed his goal of eventually uniting Taiwan with China, by force if necessary.
But he said he thought Beijing had been “surprised” by the poor performance of the Russian military forces as well as the fierce resistance of the whole of Ukrainian society, as well as the strong defense support that the West provided in kyiv.
Russia’s experience in Ukraine likely affects Beijing’s calculations of “how and when” they try to take control of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province.
“I think they were struck by the way the transatlantic alliance, in particular, came together to impose economic costs on Russia as a result of this aggression,” he continued.
Beijing was “disturbed by the fact that what Putin has done is to bring Europeans and Americans together,” Burns said.
“What conclusions to draw from all this remains a question mark,” he said.
“I think the Chinese leadership is looking very carefully at all of this, the costs and consequences of any effort to use force to take control of Taiwan.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)