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Russian President Vladimir Putin could soon be “doubling down” in an attempt to emerge victorious in Ukraine despite the death of over 25,000 Russian soldiers and mounting economic sanctions by the international community, a senior US intelligence official said.
US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns announced Saturday that Putin is optimistic about the war’s outcome despite historic losses and failed attempts to capture Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv.
“He’s in a frame of mind in which he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose,” Burns said during a Financial Times event in Washington, Reuters reported. “I think he’s convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress.”
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While military experts thought the war could have swiftly ended, Ukraine’s spirit remains unbroken despite more than 70 days of combat and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has won over the help of countries around the world, helping his country’s chances in the war.
The CIA director also said a potential loss would have devastating effects on Putin “because he staked so much on the choices that he made to launch this invasion,” AFP reported.
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Burns said he did not think Russia would pursue using nuclear weapons to win the war and clarified that Western intelligence efforts did not see any sign of Putin deploying them.
“We don’t see, as an intelligence community, practical evidence at this point of Russian planning for the deployment or even potential use of tactical nuclear weapons,” Burns said, as AFP reported.
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He said intelligence services would “not take lightly those possibilities” and that the CIA would remain diligent in surveilling Russia’s interest in using nukes, according to Reuters.
“So we stay very sharply focused as an intelligence service … on those possibilities at a moment when the stakes are very high for Russia,” he said.
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Burns also discussed China and its government’s aspirations for acquiring Taiwan — the interest which has grown since China has watched Russia’s war with Ukraine, he said.