Putin "doesn't believe he can afford to lose," CIA director says

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The 2nd signifier of Russia's war successful Ukraine — present concentrated successful the Donbas successful the eastbound and southbound — is "at slightest arsenic risky" and possibly "even riskier" than the first, eight-week portion of the conflict, CIA Director William Burns said Saturday, informing that President Vladimir Putin could "double down" connected harsh tactics to boost his army's flagging momentum.

"I deliberation Putin has staked a batch connected this 2nd signifier of what is an incredibly disfigured and brutal violative against the Ukrainians," Burns said astatine a nationalist lawsuit successful Washington, D.C., adding the Russian person was apt trying "to accommodate to immoderate of the lessons from the failures of the archetypal phase."

Burns spoke astatine the Financial Times' Weekend Festival astatine a moderated question-and-answer session.

He warned that Putin is successful a "frame of caput successful which helium doesn't judge helium tin spend to lose" - adjacent arsenic Ukraine's military, with accelerated enactment from the West, continues to show an effectual resistance.

"I deliberation he's convinced close present that doubling down inactive volition alteration him to marque progress," Burns said of Putin, adding overmuch — including the wide scope of the warfare and whether Moscow's territorial ambitions stay constricted to the southeast oregon grow to again see Odesa, Kyiv and different areas — would beryllium connected whether Russian forces could show momentum successful the coming weeks.

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said this week that Russian forces were "behind schedule" and their advancement successful the Donbas was "slow," successful portion owed to a "stiff Ukrainian resistance."

Despite heightened stakes for the Kremlin, Burns reiterated that determination were nary indications to day of an imminent deployment of Russian atomic capabilities.

"We don't see, arsenic an quality community, applicable grounds astatine this constituent of Russian readying for deployment oregon adjacent imaginable usage of tactical atomic weapons," Burns said. But fixed the Kremlin's past saber rattling, helium said, "we can't instrumentality lightly those possibilities."

Addressing caller quality reports indicating U.S. quality assisted Ukraine in carrying retired lethal strikes against Russian targets, Burns echoed erstwhile statements from the National Security Council and Pentagon, which denied the U.S. had provided circumstantial targeting information.

"I perfectly hold it is irresponsible — it's precise risky, it's unsafe erstwhile radical speech excessively much, whether it's leaking successful backstage oregon talking successful nationalist astir circumstantial quality issues," helium said.

"It was a profound mistake — it was Putin's biggest mistake — successful readying for this penetration and past successful launching it, to underestimate the Ukrainians," Burns said. "And I deliberation it's arsenic a mistake for immoderate of america to underestimate what they bring to the array successful quality presumption successful defending their ain country."

Burns admitted it was "a concern" that Putin has called Swedish and Finnish accession to NATO a "red line," but said that his rhetoric should beryllium nary deterrent to an expanded confederation if that is what the 2 Nordic countries and NATO yet hold to do, arsenic seems progressively likely.

The erstwhile vocation diplomat besides spoke astir China's cognition of the war and its continued, tacit enactment for it.

"I would not underestimate ... Xi Jinping's committedness to his concern with Putin's Russia," Burns said, citing the lengthy associated connection issued by the countries earlier the commencement of the invasion. "I deliberation that's a reflection of the committedness of some leaderships to a concern which each sees arsenic useful, chiefly successful contention with the United States."

But helium besides said Beijing had apt had a "bitter experience" watching the struggle unfold implicit the past 10-11 weeks and that Xi was apt "unsettled" by the imaginable reputational harm of associating China with the "brutishness" of Putin's war.

While planetary absorption to the struggle had apt not eroded Xi's determination to, implicit time, summation control of Taiwan, the robustness of Ukraine's absorption and the West's coordinated effect was apt affecting his calculation, Burns said.

"I deliberation those are each crisp lessons that the Chinese enactment is paying cautious attraction to," helium said.

When asked by an assemblage subordinate whether immoderate quality supports unverified nationalist reports that Putin is sick oregon ailing, the CIA main swiftly declined to answer.

"Having talked earlier astir however it's not a astute thought to speech successful nationalist astir intelligence, I'll conscionable instrumentality to that," Burns replied. "That's not thing I person overmuch to connection on." 

In: xi jinping nuclear weapons Ukraine Russia China Vladimir Putin