The US intelligence community believes it will take “years” for the Russian military to recover from the damage it suffered in the conduct of its war in Ukraine, according to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
“Their ground forces have now been so degraded that we expect it will take them years to recover in many ways,” she told a conference in Washington on Wednesday.
This could push Russia to become more dependent on “asymmetric tools” such as cyberattacks, efforts to try to control energy, or even nuclear weapons to project “power and influence”, she said.
Disaster report: Haines said Russia is beginning to focus on the Donetsk region. The intelligence community believes Russia will struggle to overtake the eastern province – as it is about to reach in neighboring Lugansk province – but Russian President Vladimir Putin likely thinks time is on his side. Moscow because he thinks the West will eventually get tired of supporting Ukraine.
“The consensus is that the war in Ukraine will continue for a long time,” Haines said, acknowledging that the US assessment of the situation was “gloomy.”
Three scenarios: Haines said the intelligence community is considering three likely scenarios that could be worked out in the coming weeks and months.
“Most likely is that the conflict will remain an uphill struggle in which the Russians make further gains, but no breakthrough,” she said. In this scenario, the Russian military will have secured Lugansk and much of Donetsk by fall, while strengthening control of southern Ukraine.
The other scenarios are that Russia could break through and refocus on Kyiv or Odessa; or, finally, that Ukraine could stabilize the front line and start making smaller gains, probably in Kherson or elsewhere in southern Ukraine.