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Russian President Vladimir Putin may soon “double his efforts” to try to emerge victorious in Ukraine despite the death of more than 25,000 Russian troops and mounting economic sanctions from the international community, a senior US intelligence official has said.
The director of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, said on Saturday that Putin was optimistic about the outcome of the war despite historic losses and failed attempts to capture the Ukrainian capital of kyiv.
“He’s in a state of mind that he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose,” Burns said at a Financial Times event in Washington, Reuters reported. “I think he’s convinced right now that overtaking again will allow him to progress.”
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While military experts thought the war could have ended quickly, the spirit of Ukraine remains intact despite more than 70 days of fighting and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has won the aid of countries around the world, helping the his country’s chances in the war.
The CIA director also said a potential loss would have devastating effects on Putin “because he was so betting on the choices he made to launch this invasion,” AFP reported.
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Burns said he did not believe Russia would continue to use nuclear weapons to win the war and made it clear that Western intelligence efforts saw no sign of Putin deploying.
“We don’t see, as the intelligence community, any practical evidence at this stage of Russian planning for the deployment or even the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons,” Burns said, as reported by the AFP.
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He said intelligence services “would not take these possibilities lightly” and that the CIA would remain diligent in monitoring Russia’s interest in using nuclear weapons, according to Reuters.
“So we remain very focused as an intelligence service … on those possibilities at a time when the stakes are very high for Russia,” he said.
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Burns also discussed China and its government’s aspirations to acquire Taiwan — interest that has grown since China watched Russia’s war with Ukraine, he said.