US intelligence chiefs on Tuesday called Russia’s Vladimir Putin an ‘angry’ leader, isolated, hungry for global influence, frustrated with how his invasion of Ukraine did not go as planned and issuing threats provocative nuclear weapons to the West.
The longtime president in Moscow “has been simmering in an explosive combination of grievances and ambition for many years,” CIA Director William Burns told US lawmakers.
He called the invasion of Ukraine a “deep personal conviction” for Putin, his latest provocative clash with Europe and the United States.
“I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now. He’s likely to redouble his efforts and try to crush the Ukrainian military regardless of civilian casualties,” Burns told a court hearing. Global Threats Congress.
The Russian strongman met with a tidal wave of opprobrium for the murderous invasion, leaving him isolated like never before.
The US intelligence community has warned of Putin’s potential to lash out, noting in particular a high nuclear threat.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, said Russia under Putin had worked overtime to modernize its weaponry, especially lower-yield nuclear weapons.
Putin has “invested in tactical nuclear weapons,” Berrier said. “I believe he thinks it gives him an asymmetric advantage.”
Putin took the shocking decision last month to put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert.
Some U.S. officials have privately expressed concern that, in the worst-case scenario, he might order the deployment of such mini-nuclears on a city.
“Obsessed” and paranoid
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Putin’s “nuclear saber slashes” put the West on notice.
“We believe Putin feels aggrieved that the West is not giving him proper deference and perceives this as a war he cannot afford to lose,” Haines told the panel.
“But what he might be willing to accept as a win may change over time,” she said.
The invasion produced “a shock to the geopolitical order with implications for the future that we are only beginning to understand, but which will certainly be consequential”.
With Putin under immense pressure, his circle of close advisers is getting “closer and tighter”, said the CIA’s Burns.
In such a system, “there is no evidence that people question or question their judgment to improve their careers.”
A senior US diplomat has also weighed in before Congress to call the Russian president a paranoid “obsessed” leader who has created a “bed of lies” and tested the very foundations of international law.
“Over the years, President Putin’s imperial ambition has grown and he is unhappy with the past 30 years of Russian history,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told Congress during a briefing. separate hearing.
He aspired ‘to be the guy who helps recreate the Soviet Union,’ she said of Putin, a KGB officer at the time of the USSR’s disintegration, which he considered a personal defeat .
With his intentions laid bare by the war and his recent comments suggesting that Ukraine is not a legitimate nation independent of Russia, “I think his inner spirit is now there for everyone to see,” Nuland added.