Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the
Vyacheslav Prokofiev | Sputnik | Reuters
WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to further upgrade the Kremlin’s arsenal of long-range nuclear-capable missiles to deter Kiev and its powerful Western allies, U.S. officials warned on Wednesday.
The warning from the country’s top spymasters comes as Russia intensifies its year-long struggle in Ukraine and threatens to pull out of a key nuclear weapons deal by Putin.
“During its invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has continued to show that it views its nuclear capabilities as necessary to maintain deterrence and achieve its objectives in a potential conflict against the US and NATO, and that it regards its nuclear arsenal as the ultimate guarantor.” of Russians consider Federation,” the country’s top intelligence agency wrote in its annual threat report.
The unclassified 35-page intelligence assessment adds that Moscow will become more dependent on nuclear weapons after significant battlefield casualties and penal rounds of sanctions that have crippled the Kremlin’s ability to fund its war machine.
“Heavy losses in its ground forces and the heavy spending on precision-guided munitions during the conflict have weakened Moscow’s ground- and air-based conventional capabilities and increased its reliance on nuclear weapons,” the intelligence community wrote.
Putin, whose country has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, previously rattled the nuclear saber after Ukrainian forays into the battlefield.
The West, meanwhile, has labeled Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons as “irresponsible” and an attempt to reassert Russia’s dominance in the region.
Last month, Putin upped the ante by announcing that he would suspend participation in the New START treaty, a key nuclear arms reduction agreement. The deal is the only arms control treaty between Washington and Moscow following former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Putin’s decision “deeply unfortunate” and said the Biden administration remains ready “to negotiate with Russia at any time, regardless of what else is going on in the world.”
Additionally, Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, told lawmakers on Wednesday that Russia’s military is unlikely to make “major territorial gains” this year, which could present an opportunity for additional nuclear threats.
Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence, Gen. Paul Nakasone, Director of the National Security Agency, center, and Christopher Wray, Director of the FBI, speak during the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on global threats in the Hart Building on Wednesday, March 8 2023, out.
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
“Putin most likely believes that time is working in his favor and that prolonging the war, including possible pauses in fighting, might be his best remaining avenue to eventually secure Russia’s strategic interests in Ukraine, even if it takes years.” , said Haines, who heads the 18 American intelligence agencies before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The intelligence chiefs, who warned last year that Russia would advance amid faltering progress in Ukraine, wrote that Putin’s invasion did not bring the expected result and that he “misjudged the capabilities of the Ukrainian armed forces.”
The spymasters also said that the Russian military will continue to face staff shortages, logistical setbacks, as well as moral challenges.
Haines, speaking alongside CIA Director William Burns, FBI Director Christopher Wray, NSA Director General Paul Nakasone and DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, said the intelligence community continues to monitor Russia’s nuclear threats.