According to US intelligence sources, Vladimir Putin is displaying fury, dissatisfaction at his military’s shortcomings, and a desire to cause even more murder and damage in Ukraine, more than two weeks into a conflict he planned to win in two days.
Officials have expressed concern in recent days that Russian President Vladimir Putin will intensify the war in an attempt to break Ukraine’s resistance. Russia still has vast military advantages and can continue to strike the nation for weeks. While the rest of the world reacts to the horrible pictures of the conflict he caused, Putin is protected from home criticism by a “propaganda bubble,” as CIA Director William Burns put it.
Putin’s attitude is crucial for the West to comprehend as it delivers additional military help to Ukraine and prevents Putin from directly attacking NATO nations or going for the nuclear button, as difficult as that may be to assess from afar. During two days of testimony before Congress last week, intelligence officers publicly expressed fears about what Putin may do. And these worries are increasingly influencing conversations about what the US is ready to do for Ukraine.
Putin has consolidated entire control of Russia’s government and security agencies during the last two decades, ruling with a small inner circle, marginalizing criticism, and imprisoning or executing his opponents. He’s long been a skeptic of the Soviet Union’s disintegration, dismissing Ukraine’s claims to statehood, and speculating on a nuclear war ending with Russians as “martyrs.” According to Burns, Putin has been “stewing in an explosive blend of resentment and ambition for many years.”
According to Burns, Putin anticipated to conquer Kyiv in two days. Instead, his force has been unable to seize control of key cities and has already lost thousands of men. Sanctions and other measures implemented by the West have damaged the Russian economy and lowered living conditions for both billionaires and regular residents. Much of the foreign cash that Russia had amassed as a hedge against sanctions has now been frozen in foreign institutions.
Burns is a former US ambassador to Moscow who has had several meetings with Putin. In answer to a query concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mental status, he told legislators that he did not believe Putin was insane.
He stated, “I believe Putin is unhappy and dissatisfied right now.” “He’ll probably double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military while ignoring civilian fatalities.”
According to Burns, Russia’s recent unsubstantiated assertions that the US is assisting Ukraine in developing chemical or biological weapons signal that Putin may be willing to use those weapons in a “false flag” operation.
There seemed to be no way to terminate the battle. It’s hard to believe that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has garnered worldwide acclaim for spearheading his country’s struggle, would suddenly acknowledge Russia’s annexation of Crimea or favor providing additional autonomy to Russian-friendly portions of eastern Ukraine. Even if he wins Kyiv and deposes Zelenskyy, Putin would have to account for a Western-backed insurrection in a nation with a population of over 40 million people.
“In the face of what will continue to be intense rejection from Ukrainians, he has no viable political end-game,” Burns said.
Putin “perceives this as a conflict he cannot afford to lose,” according to Avril Haines, President Joe Biden’s director of national intelligence. However, given the substantial expenditures he is spending, what he is ready to accept as a triumph may shift with time.”
Putin’s recent upgrading of Russia’s nuclear alert level, according to intelligence experts, was “likely meant to prevent the West from sending greater help to Ukraine,” she added.
Both Democrats and Republicans have been upset by the White House’s fear of escalation. The Biden administration has recently rejected to accept a Polish plan to lend Soviet-era jets to Ukraine, which would have required the United States to join in the transfer. Before shifting direction, the administration had deferred penalties on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and said it would not provide Stinger air-defense missiles to Ukraine.
When asked about the jet transfer on Thursday, Haines suggested Putin could regard it as a larger concern than the anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry that are already on their way to Ukraine. Haines did not say if the United States had intelligence to back up that conclusion.
Out of fear of provoking Putin, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, said the Biden administration was “always a step or two late.” He encouraged the White House to approve the plane transfer as soon as possible.
Quigley replied, “I think that comes out as quibbling.” “Anyone who believes Putin would separate and differentiate — ‘Oh, well, they’re taking off from Poland’ — they’re mistaken. He views everything as escalatory.”
Meanwhile, as the violence escalates and more Russians are killed, the West is looking for cracks in Putin’s “propaganda bubble.” Kirill Rogov, an independent Russian political analyst, said the battle is “lost” and a “epic disaster” on his Telegram channel.
“The blunder was believing that the West was incapable of resisting assault, that it was sluggish, selfish, and divided,” Rogov wrote. “It was a mistake to believe that the Russian economy is self-sufficient and safe. The error was in estimating the Russian army’s quality. The fundamental blunder was believing that Ukraine was a failed state and that Ukrainians did not constitute a nation.
“It’s a lot to make four faults in one choice,” he remarked.
Prior to the invasion, a survey done by Russia’s premier independent opinion research agency, the Levada Center, indicated that 60% of respondents believe the US and NATO are the “initiators” of the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Russia received only 3% of the vote. The survey took place in January and February, and the Levada Center hasn’t conducted any fresh research since the conflict began.
Outsiders anticipate that ordinary Russians will respond to the significant reduction in their living circumstances by seeking out truthful depictions of the conflict through family and the internet, especially by using VPN software to circumvent Kremlin social media censorship. Russian state television continues to disseminate false or unfounded accusations against the US and Ukrainian governments, promoting the premise that Russia cannot afford to lose the war.
On his regular radio program last week, Vladimir Solovyov, presenter of a prime-time chat show on state TV station Russia 1, stated, “Otherwise, it would lead to the end of Russia itself.”