CIA chief says Ukraine must break through ‘Putin’s hubris’ in next 6 months

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014. Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

  • CIA chief William Burns said the war in Ukraine would enter a “critical” phase within the next six months.

  • Burns said breaking “Putin’s hubris” on the battlefield would be crucial for Ukraine.

  • Russia is expected to launch a major offensive in the near future.

CIA Director William Burns warned Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “betting right now on making his time work” and “suppressing Ukrainians” as Western support for Ukraine wanes.

The CIA believes the next six months of the war in Ukraine will be “critical”, said Burns, a former US ambassador to Russia who travels frequently to Kyiv. an event at Georgetown University.

During this “crucial” period, it will be crucial for Ukraine’s armed forces to break “Putin’s hubris” on the battlefield, Burns said, stressing that Ukraine must make it clear to the Russian leader “that he does not not just going to do it in Ukraine can go further, but every month it runs the risk of losing the territory it illegally confiscated from Ukraine.

Burns’ assessment echoes NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg’s comments in mid-January when he said war was beginning “crucial step”.

The struggle in Ukraine has turned into a grueling war of attrition, with heavy losses on both sides and mounting gains. However, Russia is expected to launch a major offensive in the near future as Ukraine increases its demands for more advanced weapons from the West to help it defend against Russian invaders and hasten the recapture of occupied territories. The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom recently announced that they would supply main battle tanks to Ukraine, meeting a significant demand.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov hinted on Wednesday that the expected Russian offensive should take place just before the first anniversary of the Russian invasion on February 24.

“We think that since they live in symbolism, they will try something around February 24,” Reznikov told French broadcaster BFMTV.

Meanwhile, discussions are underway in Kyiv and Western capitals about the possibility of Ukrainian forces ousting Russia from Crimea and regaining control of the crucial Black Sea peninsula.

“We must do everything we can to get Crimea home by summer,” Major General Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, told The Washington Post recently. “Crimea will be returned to us. I’ll tell you more: it all started in Crimea in 2014 and it will all end there,” he added.

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 and illegally annexed Crimea, sparking global outrage. In many ways, this provocative action laid the groundwork for Russia’s full-scale invasion of its closest neighbor last February.

Crimea, home to a number of Russian military bases and the Russian Black Sea Fleet, was used as a base for the Russian invasion last year. Russian warplanes and warships continue to use Crimea as a base for attacks on Ukraine. Prominent military analysts have argued that regaining control of Crimea is key to Ukraine’s long-term survival.

“The crucial ground for this war is Crimea. The Ukrainian government knows it cannot be satisfied with Russia maintaining control of Crimea,” retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of the US Army in Europe, told Insider in late January. “In the coming months, Ukraine will create the conditions for the eventual liberation of Crimea,” he added.

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