The director of the Central Intelligence Agency said on Tuesday that Vladimir Putin planned to seize the Ukrainian capital Kyiv within two days of the invasion, amid warnings that a frustrated Russian president could escalate attacks on civilians.
The main Russian armored column was stuck near Kiev for several days due to reports of poor morale, lack of supplies and technical problems.
Testifying before Congress, CIA Director Bill Burns said Putin was angry and disappointed.
“You know, it’s a matter of deep personal conviction for him,” he said. “He has been brewing in a combustible mixture of discontent and ambition for many years.”
But Putin underestimated Ukraine’s combat capability and global response.
“Instead of capturing Kyiv within the first two days of the campaign, on which his plan was based, after almost two weeks they were still unable to completely encircle the city,” Burns said, revealing for the first time that US intelligence circles knew about the Russian plan of action. .
While Russian forces have made significant gains in the south of the country, they have stalled in other parts of Ukraine.
Captured soldiers complained about the lack of food, fuel and a general battle plan.
CIA director Bill Burns (left) said that President Vladimir Putin planned to capture Kyiv within two days of the invasion. “I think Putin is angry and upset right now,” Burns said, warning that he expects an escalation in his attacks from Russia.
A Ukrainian tank rolls down the main road in Kyiv on Tuesday. The main column of the Russian invasion remains outside the capital
Armed Ukrainian soldiers stand guard next to the Czech-made defensive “hedgehogs” in the center of Kyiv
Russian forces continue to attempt to encircle Kyiv in the lead-up to what is expected to be an attack on the city, with heavy fighting reported in the northwest, including hand-to-hand combat with Russian forces.
The committee learned that, according to the latest US intelligence estimates, between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began.
Meanwhile, Russian troops besieged the cities, depriving them of food, water and electricity.
Burns said that without Putin leaving, the result is likely to be violent conflict with dire consequences for the civilian population.
“I think Putin is angry and upset right now,” Burns said.
“He will probably redouble his efforts and try to crush the Ukrainian army, regardless of civilian casualties.
“But the problem he has faced – and this is the biggest question that has hung over our analysis of his planning for several months – … he does not have a sustainable political endgame in the face of what will remain fierce resistance from the Ukrainians. .’
He added that US intelligence agencies exchange information with Ukraine on a daily basis.
But he said CIA analysts say they currently don’t see how Putin can achieve his goal of taking over Kyiv and installing a puppet regime.
Instead, he predicted “an ugly next few weeks.”
A day earlier, a Pentagon spokesman said Putin had sent all of his invasion troops, estimated at more than 150,000 around the border, to Ukraine.
Russia did not deploy forces from elsewhere to attack, he said, but instead sought to enlist the support of foreign fighters.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haynes said intelligence analysts believe Putin will not be deterred by setbacks.
Belarusian volunteers undergo military training at the base of the Belarusian company in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Hundreds of Belarusian emigrants and citizens arrived in Ukraine to help the Ukrainian army in the fight against Russian occupiers
“We believe … reports that the Russians are trying to recruit Syrians, in particular to enlist and fight in Ukraine, are true,” the official said.
“We find it remarkable that [Putin] believes it needs to rely on foreign fighters to complement what is a very important commitment of combat power within Ukraine as such.”
Burns’ assessment was supported by Avril Haynes, Director of National Intelligence.
“Our analysts believe that Putin is unlikely to be deterred by such setbacks and may escalate instead,” she said at the hearing.
And she warned of the danger that misunderstandings could lead to unintended consequences.
“With tensions this high, there is always an increased possibility of miscalculation, of unintended escalation, which we hope our intelligence will help mitigate,” she said.
Putin made four key miscalculations when it came to planning his quick victory over Ukraine, Burns added.
The Russian leader believed that Ukraine was easily intimidated, while Europe, especially France and Germany, were distracted by domestic politics and “avoid risk.”
Third, he believed he had “protected” his economy from sanctions, and fourth, he rebuilt his military to be capable of a quick and decisive victory.
“He was wrong on every count,” Burns said. “These assumptions have proven to be deeply flawed over the last 12 days of the conflict.”
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced a ban on U.S. imports of Russian oil and gas, tightening the economic noose.
The result reportedly prompted Kremlin officials to denounce the invasion as “cluster ***”.
Farida Rustamova, a well-connected Russian journalist in government circles before fleeing Russia amid crackdowns on free speech, said sources she spoke to before leaving never believed Putin would go to war and now do apocalyptic predictions.
“They pronounce the word ‘clusterf***’ carefully,” one source told her when asked how Russian politicians reacted to the news.
“No one is happy. Many understand that this is a mistake, but in the course of doing their duty they come up with explanations in order to somehow come to terms with this.
The details came shortly before the White House stepped up pressure on the Russian economy when President Joe Biden announced he was banning Russian oil and gas imports.
“This means that Russian oil will no longer be accepted in US ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he said.
The move follows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call to US and Western officials to stop imports, a glaring omission from the sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion.
Biden vowed that Putin would never be able to declare victory.
“Russia may continue to ramp up its advance at a terrible cost, but one thing is already clear: Ukraine will never be Putin’s victory,” he said.
“Putin can take the city, but he can never hold the country.”
Export of energy resources provides a stable inflow of funds to Russia, despite severe restrictions in its financial sector.