V.Ladimir Putin not only wants to limit his occupation of the Donbass region of Ukraine, but also wants to take the conflict to Transdniestria, a part of Moldova that seceded in 1990, US intelligence chief April Haynes announced on Tuesday.
“We believe that President Putin is preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine, during which time he still wants to go beyond Donbass to achieve his goals,” Haynes told a congressional hearing.
U.S. intelligence believes the Russian military “wants to extend the land bridge (in southern Ukraine) to Transnistria,” he added.
He added that “if it is possible” for Russian forces to achieve this goal in the coming months, “they will not be able to reach Transnistria and include Odessa without dictating the form of public mobilization.”
The Russian president has warned that “the United States and the EU are expected to weaken, and food shortages and rising energy prices will worsen.”
Mr Hines added that Mr Putin’s ambitions far outweighed the capabilities of the Russian military, and “probably means that in the coming months we will be on an unpredictable and intensifying path.”
“The current trend is to increase the chances of President Putin returning to drastic measures such as the establishment of martial law, the diversion of industrial production or the military augmentation of the resources needed to achieve his goals.”
“We continue to believe that President Putin will order the use of nuclear weapons only if the Russian government or regime realizes an existential threat,” he said.
“If he thinks he is losing the war in Ukraine and NATO is intervening or preparing to intervene, the Russian president may seek it,” he said. But even in this hypothesis, Avril Haynes noted that “he sends signals.”
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