Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to extend the war to Moldova’s Transnistria region, US intelligence director Avril Haines told Congress.
According to Haines, American intelligence services believe that Putin is preparing for a long conflict in Ukraine, and that the Russians’ military objectives go beyond the Donbass region (the eastern part of Ukraine, where there has been fighting between the Ukrainian government and separatists since 2014).
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Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova, is on the border of Ukraine — Photo: Arte g1
She said US intelligence services believe the Russian military wants to “extend the land bridge (in southern Ukraine) to Transnistria.” To reach this region of Moldova, the Russians will also need to conquer the Ukrainian city of Odessa.
She said it is possible for Russian forces to achieve this objective in the coming months, but for that they will need to enact a general mobilization of forces.
Putin “is likely counting on a weakening of US and EU resolve as food shortages become more acute and energy prices soar,” Haines said.
Putin’s ambitions far outstrip the capabilities of the Russian military, and that “probably means that over the next few months we will evolve into a more unpredictable trajectory and potentially an escalation,” Haines said.
Putin on ‘Victory Day’ — Photo: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
“The current trend increases the chances that President Putin will resort to more drastic measures, including the introduction of martial law, the reorientation of industrial production, or a possible military escalation to free up the resources necessary to achieve his goals,” he said.
Regarding nuclear weapons, she is ambiguous. She claims that the Russian will only resort to nuclear weapons, however, if he perceives a threat to his state or regime, but also says that Putin can use them “if he thinks he is losing the war in Ukraine, and NATO intervene, or prepare to intervene”.
Even in this scenario, he is likely to send signals before acting, she said.