Putin could go nuclear if he thinks Russia is losing Ukraine war or his regime is under threat, US intelligence chief says

Russian President Vladimir Putin could use nuclear weapons if he feels that he’s losing the war in Ukraine or if he perceives his regime to be under threat, the US intelligence chief has warned.

The spy chief added that Mr Putin is preparing Russia for a “prolonged conflict” in Ukraine that could involve Moldova and he may impose martial law to get his way.

US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines appeared in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, testifying that Mr Putin may become more “unpredictable” and “escalatory” in his invasion of Ukraine that began on 24 February.

She warned that the fighting will become fiercer and that Mr Putin will try to go beyond the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, with his possible targets including Moldova, which borders Romania and southern Ukraine.

Transnistria, a region of Moldova, is being controlled by pro-Russian separatists supported by around 1,500 Russian troops.

“The next month or two of fighting will be significant as the Russians attempt to reinvigorate their efforts,” Ms Haines said.

The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency Directory, Lt General Scott Berrier, told the committee that “the Russians aren’t winning. And the Ukrainians aren’t winning. We’re at a bit of a stalemate here”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to watch the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in central Moscow on May 9, 2022

(AFP via Getty Images)

“We are not confident that the fight in the Donbas will effectively end the war,” Ms Haines said. “We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas.”

“The uncertain nature of the battle which is developing into a war of attrition, combined with the reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities likely means the next few months could see us moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory,” she added.

Ms Haines told the committee that Mr Putin is “probably counting on US and EU resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy prices get worse” and that he “most likely also judges that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to endure challenges than his adversaries”.

She said the US doesn’t see a “viable negotiating path forward, at least in the short term”.

Ms Haines said that according to the US assessment, Mr Putin was using the threat of nuclear weapons to make the West hesitant to provide more “lethal” weaponry to Ukraine.

She added that Mr Putin “would probably only authorize the use of nuclear weapons if he perceived an existential threat to the Russian state or regime”, adding that if Mr Putin doesn’t perceive the US to be listening to its threats, Russia may organise a nuclear exercise.

The spy chief said Mr Putin could interpret his regime to be in danger if “he perceives that he is losing the war in Ukraine, and that NATO in effect is either intervening or about to intervene in that context, which would obviously contribute to a perception that he is about to lose the war in Ukraine”.

Ms Haines said that Russia may pose a “serious cyber threat” to the US in order to “amplify discord inside the United States and influence … voters and decision making”.

Speaking about China, Ms Haines said the country wants to take Taiwan “without armed conflict” but that “Beijing is prepared to use force if necessary”.

First responders work at the site of a missile strike, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine in this handout image released May 10, 2022


In this photo provided by Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard Press Office, an Azov Special Forces Regiment’s serviceman receives treatment inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 10, 2022

(Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard Press Office)

She said it’s the US view that China is “working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention”.

She added that the administration doesn’t believe that the war in Ukraine would speed up China’s plans for Taiwan, but she agreed that there’s a threat of Taiwan being invaded between now and 2030.

Ms Haines said it’s “likely” that Mr Putin will impose martial law to support his war in Ukraine, adding that he may look to “more drastic means” to keep the invasion afloat.

He may also increase industrial production to make up for lost resources or order “potentially escalatory military actions to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives as the conflict drags on, or if he perceives Russia is losing in Ukraine”.

Russia’s most-advanced £4 million tank destroyed by Ukraine

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here.  If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

Source Link

Leave a Reply