No quick end to the Ukraine war in sight

Russia attacked the neighboring country on February 24. After the Russian army failed to capture the capital Kyiv in the face of fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces, fighting is now concentrated in southern and eastern Ukraine.

In the West, it was initially feared that on Monday, the day commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany, Putin could expand his deployment in Ukraine and announce general mobilization. But that didn’t happen. US intelligence coordinator Haines said at a Senate hearing in Washington that Putin was preparing for a “protracted conflict in Ukraine, in which he still wants to achieve goals beyond the Donbas.”

The Russian President is determined to create a land connection to the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria in the east of the Republic of Moldova. According to American intelligence agencies, a possible Russian success in the Donbas would probably not mean the end of Russia’s war against Ukraine. “We assume that Putin’s strategic goals probably haven’t changed,” Haines said. The relocation of the Russian armed forces to the Donbas is probably only temporary.

Warning against escalation of the conflict

Haines also warned of an escalation of the conflict. The uncertainty of the struggle, which is developing into a war of attrition, coupled with the mismatch between Putin’s ambitions and Russia’s military capabilities, means an “unpredictable and potentially escalating trajectory” in the coming months. “Since both Russia and Ukraine believe they can move forward militarily, we see no viable avenue for negotiation, at least in the short term,” Haines said.

Russia is at least two weeks behind schedule for invading the Donbas region, according to a US insider. That also applies to the south of Ukraine, said a high-ranking US military representative, who did not want to be named. “The current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic measures, including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production, or potentially escalating military options,” the US intelligence director told the Armed Services Committee.

Haines stressed that the US still believes that Moscow will continue to use “nuclear rhetoric” to prevent the US and the West from increasing support for Ukraine. “We continue to believe that President Putin would probably only authorize the use of nuclear weapons if he perceived an existential threat to the Russian state or regime,” Haines said.

US Intelligence Coordinator Avril Haines and DIA Chief Scott Berrier

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

The US secret service considers a nuclear attack by Russia to be unlikely

Haines: Putin expects the West to relax

Putin also expects Russia to have more staying power than the West and Ukraine, said Haines, who coordinates the work of the 18 US intelligence agencies. “Putin most likely assumes that Russia has a greater ability and will than its opponents to withstand challenges. And he’s probably counting on US and EU resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy prices worsen.”

USA put together new aid package

The US and EU countries are supporting Ukraine in the war with extensive arms deliveries. The US Congress is in the process of putting together a new aid package worth almost 40 billion dollars (38 billion euros). Much of the money is earmarked for military aid.

At the end of April, Biden called on Congress to approve $33 billion in additional funds for Ukraine, including $20 billion for military and security aid. Biden’s Democrats and the opposition Republicans have now agreed to provide an additional $6.8 billion, making a total of $39.8 billion available. The House of Representatives and Senate still have to approve the aid package, which should happen quickly.

Biden called on the two chambers of Congress on Monday to approve the funds quickly so that there would be no interruption in arms deliveries. He also signed a law based on a World War II-era program in the fight against Nazi Germany to speed up arms shipments to Ukraine.

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