Putin does not intend to stop in Donbass, according to US intelligence

WASHINGTON | Vladimir Putin does not intend to limit his desire for occupation to the Donbass region of Ukraine alone, but wants to take the conflict to Transdniestria, a region of Moldova which seceded in 1990, declared Tuesday the head of the US Intelligence, April Haines.

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“We believe that President Putin is preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine, during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond Donbass,” Haines told a congressional hearing.

US intelligence believes the Russian military wants to “extend the land bridge (in southern Ukraine) to Transnistria,” she added.

If it is “possible” that the Russian forces achieve this objective in the coming months, “they will not be able to reach Transnistria and include Odessa without decreeing a form of general mobilization”, she added.

The Russian president is “probably counting on a weakening of the determination of the United States and the European Union when the shortages of food goods and the rise in energy prices will worsen”, she warned.

Mr Putin’s ambitions exceed the capabilities of the Russian military, she said, and that “probably means that we will move in the coming months on a more unpredictable and potentially escalating trajectory”, added Ms Haines.

“The current trend increases the chances that President Putin will turn to more drastic measures, including the establishment of martial law, the redirection of industrial production or a potential military escalation in order to free up the resources necessary to achieve his objectives. “, she continued.

“We continue to believe that President Putin will only order the use of nuclear weapons if he perceives an existential threat to the Russian state or regime,” she noted.

The Russian president could nevertheless resort to it “if he thinks he is losing the war in Ukraine and that NATO is either intervening or preparing to intervene,” she said. But, even in this hypothesis, “it is likely that he would send signals” before doing so, noted Avril Haines.

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