Vladimir Putin is planning a protracted war and is likely to impose a military emergency in Russia, according to the head of US intelligence.
Intelligence chief Avril Haines claims that the Russian president will not end the Ukrainian war with an attack in the Donbass region.
It believes Putin is determined to build a land bridge to Moldova’s breakaway pro-Russian region of Transnistria.
“Our assessment is that Putin is preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine as he continues to pursue goals beyond Donbass,” Haines said at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Transnistria is part of Moldova under international law, but Russian-backed separatists seized power in 1990 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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US intelligence believes that Putin will become more unpredictable in the future, and that his goals are greater than what Russia has the military capacity to achieve.
“Current developments increase the possibility that President Putin will resort to more hard-line methods, including imposing a state of emergency, reorganizing industrial production, or possibly intensifying the use of military force to free up resources needed to achieve the goals he has set,” Haines told the hearing.
According to her, the Russian president may also believe that the war will eventually erode the willingness of the United States and Europe to support Ukraine.
“Putin probably believes that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to take on challenges than its peers,” Haines said.
With food shortages, inflation and energy prices worsening, Haines said, Putin is likely to weaken the resolve of the United States and Europe.
Both Russia and Ukraine believe they can still make military progress in the war, according to Haines, which means they do not see a viable negotiating path, at least not in the short term.
However, US intelligence does not believe that Putin will use nuclear weapons, unless Russia faces an existential threat.
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Several missile attacks
The city of Odessa in Ukraine has been subject to several attacks recently. And the city was hit on Monday night by seven missiles, according to the Ukrainian defense. A shopping center and department store were hit.
The military said one person was killed and five wounded.
Odessa was also attacked earlier in the day while European Union President Charles Michel was on an unannounced visit. It was alleged that he and Prime Minister Denis Jamihal had to go into hiding.
The battle for the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol continues. According to the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Irina Vereshuk, there are still more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers in steel plants.
Some of them are seriously injured and must be evacuated urgently. Vereshuk says the situation is getting worse every day.
The heavily bombed steel mills were the last bastion of the remaining Ukrainian forces in the city, which were besieged soon after the Russian invasion began.
There were conflicting reports as to whether civilians had actually been evacuated from Azovstal. All women, children and the elderly have been evacuated, Versijtsuk said at the weekend.
However, the governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kirilenko, said Tuesday evening that there were “certainly” at least 100 civilians left.
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