Russian President Vladimir Putin is “determined to dominate and control Ukraine” and went to war based on a set of assumptions that led him to believe Russia would have a successful outcome, said Tuesday. CIA Director Bill Burns.
Putin believed in several assumptions about the use of force, including the belief that Ukraine was weak and easily intimidated. Second, Putin believed that Europeans, especially the French and Germans, were distracted and risk averse.
Third, he believed he had “sanctions protected” his economy and created a large war chest of foreign currency reserves.
And fourth, he was convinced that he had modernized his army and was capable of a quick decisive victory at minimal cost.
“He’s been proven wrong on every count,” Burns said.
Asked what it would take for Putin to change his calculation in Ukraine, Burns offered a sober assessment, saying “it’s a matter of deep personal conviction for him.”
Putin “has been simmering in a combustible combination of grievances and ambition for many years”, he said, adding that the Russian president has created a system in which his own circle of advisers is “increasingly narrow”. .
The global Covid-19 pandemic has also made his circle even smaller, Burns told a House Intelligence Committee hearing on global threats.
Burns then predicted an “ugly next few weeks” with “little regard for civilian casualties” given that Russia is unlikely to be able to install a puppet regime or pro-Russian leadership in the face of opposition from the Ukrainian people.
“The Ukrainians will continue to resist fiercely and effectively,” he added.