The US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warns that the war in Ukraine could become more unpredictable and bloody
The war in Ukraine could enter a most unpredictable, volatile and bloody phase in the coming months and it could extend beyond what now appears to be the intention on the part of the Russians to control only Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, according to the Director of US National Intelligence, Avril Haines.
The head of US intelligence stressed that Moscow seeks to create a land bridge from the occupied Crimean peninsula to Transnistria, in neighboring Moldova, but it cannot do so without increased military mobilization.
“Even if they succeed, we are not sure that the fighting in Donbas will end effectively with the war,” he said.
“We assess that President Putin is preparing to protracted conflict in Ukraine during which they still has the intention of achieving greater objectives,” according to the testimony of the director of National Intelligence that is also collected by CNN.
In an appearance before the US Senate Armed Services Committee, Haines said Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s strategic goals in Ukraine “probably haven’t changed” since the invasion began, local media reported.
“The uncertain nature of the battle, which is becoming a war of attrition, combined with the reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities, probably means that in the coming months we could move forward in a more unpredictable direction and a further escalation of violence,” Haines said, according to Politico magazine.
“As minimum, we believe that this situation will mark the beginning” of a period of decision-making more adjusted to the circumstances of the offensive by Russia, he specified.
He added that Putin could seek “more drastic means” on the home front and abroad to achieve their goals, including imposing martial law, shifting industrial production to sustain the war effort, and “larger military action.”
The Kremlin has threatened with the use of nuclear weapons, in a rhetoric that, according to Haines, it is aimed at dissuading the United States and other allies from providing Ukraine with more combat equipment.
Putin could carry out new nuclear tests as a warning to the West, Haines added, although he said he believed he would only approve the use of these weapons “if he really perceives an existential threat to the Russian state or regime.”
Although Russia appears to have changed its strategy and focused on controlling Donbas, where Ukrainian troops have spent years fighting Russian-backed separatists, Haines believes that Putin intends to expand the war beyond that region, which is the industrial heart of the country.
Haines testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee along with Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as part of the annual hearing on threats held by that legislative body, in which the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which began on February 24 , occupied most of the session.