CIA Director William Burns told CBS News on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to call up 300,000 reservists will not solve all of his problems in Ukraine, pointing to issues with training and logistical support.
“His military has a lot of other problems, manpower is only one of them,” Burns told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell.
Putin made the announcement last week after facing steep territorial losses from a recent Ukrainian counteroffensive, which pushed back Russian forces to the borders in some areas.
The partial mobilization of the Russian military sparked protests across the country and led thousands hoping to avoid military service to flee the country.
“Even if he’s able to mobilize 300,000 troops, it’s not as if throwing people like cannon fodder toward the front, many of whom are not gonna be well-trained, many of whom are not going to have the equipment that they need or the logistical support that they need as well” will solve the military’s problems, Burns said.
Putin in his announcement also threatened the West with nuclear weapons, saying it is “not a bluff.”
Burns told O’Donnell that the intelligence community has not seen any practical evidence of Russia moving closer toward actually using a nuclear weapon, saying there is no “imminent threat.”
“We have to take very seriously his kind of threats given everything that’s at stake, and the rhetoric that he and other senior Russian leaders have used is reckless and deeply irresponsible,” Burns said.
When pressed if he thought Putin was bluffing, Burns declined to say while arguing U.S. policymakers need to make it clear with Russia the consequences that would ensue if they move forward.
“It’s very hard to say at this point, and as I said, what we have to do is take it very seriously, watch for signs of actual preparations,” Burns told CBS.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday publicly said the United States would act “decisively” and place “catastrophic consequences” on Russia, adding that officials spelled out more details on what a response would look like privately with the Kremlin.