CIA Director William Burns told lawmakers Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to agree to settlement talks with Ukraine for tactical reasons because he “has no sustainable end” to his invasion.
“Given Putin’s track record, given the fact that he’s someone who hates acting on what he thinks is weakness, and needs to admit or admit mistakes, this is probably a long shot,” Burns said.
Thursday’s session in Turkey between the two countries’ top diplomats failed to reach a ceasefire.
Burns also told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Putin, at the same time, is turning Russia into a “propaganda bubble.”
“He has intensified his dominance of the state-run media and in his stifling of independent media, especially in recent years, and especially since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.”
“I can’t believe he can isolate himself [Russians] Indefinitely from the truth, especially as the facts begin to puncture that bubble. Incidents of dead and wounded return to the homeland in increasing numbers. The facts of the economic consequences for ordinary Russians as I have been discussing before, the facts you know, the horrific scenes of bombing hospitals and schools nearby and Ukraine, enough civilian casualties there too. I don’t think he can hold the truth indefinitely.”
Leaders of intelligence agencies from across the government testified at the second of two hearings detailing their annual report on “global threats,” after speaking to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
Burns told Senator Susan Collins, R-Main, that the United States needs to “focus” on Russia’s potential use of chemical weapons in terms of the “false science” operation and in fact.
“That’s something that as you all very well know is a very big part of the rules of the game in Russia,” Burns said. “They have used those weapons against their own citizens. They have at least encouraged their use in Syria and elsewhere. So, this is something we take very seriously.”
He said he believed the United States was sufficiently backing away from the Russian narrative.
“In all my years as a professional diplomat, I’ve seen many cases where we lost information wars with the Russians. In this case, I think we had a great deal of influence disrupting their tactics and calculations and proving to the whole world that this is a deliberate, unjustified, group-based aggression of lies and false narratives.”
The head of US Cyber Command, General Paul Nakasone, has defended information sharing between the US and Ukraine amid Republican suggestions that the US has been holding back.
He said, “The intelligence we’re sharing is accurate. It’s relevant, and actionable. I think when we look back, that’s the key piece, of what we’ve been able to do as an intelligence community.” .
Defense Intelligence Agency Director General Scott Perrier admitted he could have done a better job evaluating the problems Putin’s army would have overcome in overcoming the Ukrainians’ will to fight.
“Therefore, we assessed before the invasion that he was overestimating or underestimating the Ukrainians … the resistance,” he said. We did not do a good job in terms of predicting the military challenges he faced with his army.”
“We made some assumptions about his assumptions, which proved to be highly flawed,” Brier said.
“Among the many deeply flawed assumptions President Putin made in launching this invasion was his assumption that he built a sanctions-proof economy,” Burns said.
Burns said Putin believed he had built “a very large war fund for foreign exchange reserves and gold reserves, and by not anticipating sanctions against the Russian Central Bank, by not expecting the German leadership to show such determination in particular, I think he severely underestimated the consequences.” Economically, I think Russia is feeling it now, and it will only get worse.”
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