A top U.S. intelligence official says it looks like the invasion of Ukraine could become one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most significant and enduring blunders.
“It’s hard to see the record of the war — Putin’s record — as anything other than a failure, so far,” Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns told a cybersecurity conference in Washington on Thursday.
“Russia is going to pay a very heavy price,” Burns said. “Not only has the weakness of the Russian military been exposed, but there is going to be long-term damage done to the Russian economy and to generations of Russians as a result of this.”
The blunt assessment is not the first from a top U.S. intelligence official warning that Russia’s war with Ukraine is backfiring on Moscow.
In June, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said that Russia’s ground forces “have been degraded to the point where it will take them years to get back to where they were, in many respects.”
At the time, Haines said Russia’s losses could possibly persuade Putin to negotiate at least a temporary end to the fighting.
But instead, Putin appears to have hardened his stance on Ukraine.
“It wasn’t us who started the military action, we are trying to put an end to it,” Putin told an economic forum in the port city of Vladivostok on Wednesday, reiterating his long-held position that he was compelled to send forces into Ukraine to protect Moscow-backed separatist regions that have battled Ukrainian forces since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
“In the longer run, it will help strengthen our country both domestically and internationally,” he added.
Burns, the CIA director, said Thursday that he expects the war in Ukraine will prove Putin wrong.
“Putin’s bet, I think, is that he’s going to be tougher than the Ukrainians and the Europeans and the Americans,” Burns said. “Putin’s view is always that we have attention deficit disorder, and we’ll get distracted.”
“Putin is as wrong about that bet as he was profoundly wrong in his assumptions going back to last February about the Ukrainian will to resist and the will of the West, of the United States and all of our partners to support the Ukrainians,” he said.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.