The analysis of US intelligence: this is how it enters Putin's head

War / Roberto Vivaldelli 11 March 2022

The US intelligence community tries to get inside the head of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to understand what the Tsar's next moves in the war in Ukraine could be. On March 8, the director of national intelligence Avril Haines, during the annual hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on global threats, together with the heads of the various agencies - the American intelligence community includes 17 agencies and organizations - tried to understand what lies behind the mind of the Russian president and his circle. As Politico reports, US officials have described Putin as "a strong man" increasingly "isolated and outraged, frustrated with the performance of his troops" after two weeks of battle in Ukraine and "willing to take the conflict to even more dangerous levels. ". Haines stressed that Putin "probably envisaged" many of the international financial sanctions imposed in response to Russia's aggression, but "did not foresee the extent to which the United States and its allies and partners would adopt" drastic measures such as the one decided by the President. of the United States, Joe Biden, to announce a stop to imports of Russian gas and oil. Similarly, the Russian president, according to Haines, would have underestimated "the withdrawal from Russia initiated by non-state actors in the private sectors", like the many American and Western companies that have decided to leave the country, including McDonald's, Starbucks, but also Apple, Shell, Volvo, Volkswagen, Bp, Netflix. A gamble that will cost the Russian economy dearly. "Putin convinced he will win the war in Ukraine" According to Avril Haines, however, these measures will in no way discourage Vladimir Putin, nor will they persuade him to stop the war in Ukraine. On the contrary. The director of national intelligence said that the US intelligence community considers it "unlikely" that Putin will be "discouraged" and, indeed, could "escalate" the attack. The Kremlin leader, moreover, "probably still remains confident that Russia can militarily defeat Ukraine," added Haines. While it is not yet "clear" whether the Russian president will pursue a "maximalist plan to conquer all or most of Ukraine," Haines said, he will find it "particularly challenging" to maintain control of the conquered territory and establish a sustainable regime. Moscow in Kiev in the midst of what could be "a persistent and" significant "Ukrainian revolt. For the Russian president, therefore, the "quagmire" risk, at least according to the US intelligence community, is concrete. "A very angry and frustrated man" Haines also stressed during the hearing that the Russian president "feels saddened that the West does not give him adequate consideration" and perceives that this is a war he "cannot afford to lose". This perception, however, could change over time, "given the significant costs" that Russia "is facing" as a result of the war. The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Scott Berrier, rattled off a few numbers on Russian losses: it would be, "with little security", a number that fluctuates between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers killed by the Ukrainian resistance. The CIA director William Burns judged the Kremlin leader clear, according to whom Putin "fed on a dangerous combination of resentment and ambition for many years". ________________________________________ "I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now," he added. "He is likely to double down and try to crush the Ukrainian army regardless of civilian casualties." According to Burns, the Kremlin leader governs with the support of an "increasingly narrow" circle of trusted advisors. A narrative that has emerged frequently, in a large part of the Western press, in recent weeks, sees an angry president, more and more alone and isolated. But is regime change really possible in Russia? And who could replace Putin right now? Caution in this regard is a must. Biden administration officials explain that their goal is not to oust Putin from power, but rather to no longer allow him to ignore the sentiments of Russian public opinion opposing the consultation. Economic sanctions are also needed - and above all for this -: to strike the population to make it rise up against the tyrant on duty.